BikePortland.org

Survey says drivers unaware of laws, other road users

GMAC Insurance just released results of their 2006 National Drivers Test. They polled 5,288 people and gave them a 20 question test about basic rules of the road. They also asked them about their driving behavior.

The results of the test were pretty sad. 1 in 11 Americans – about 18 million people – failed. It’s a pretty simple test. You can take it yourself. I don’t drive much but I still managed to get 90% (you need 70% to pass).

The good news is that Oregon and Washington scored highest in the nation for the second year in a row.

So cyclists around here have nothing to worry about right? Not exactly.

Unfortunately the survey also found that of the 5,288 polled, 42% eat while driving and 40% chat on cell phones while driving. Among the notorious 18-24 age bracket, 62% eat and a whopping 71% use cell phones.

Here’s a disturbing excerpt from the GMAC press release:

“The study shows drivers deliberately disregard pedestrians and treat driving as the new “down time,” where they catch up on the day’s activities, diverting their attention from the road.”

“Roughly 1 in 3 drivers don’t usually stop for pedestrians – even if they’re in a crosswalk or at a yellow light…drivers deliberately disregard pedestrians and treat driving as the new “down time,” where they catch up on the day’s activities, diverting their attention from the road.

As bad and scary as that sounds, I don’t think we as cyclists can take the high road on this one. I wonder what a survey like this would reveal if they polled cyclists?

I have to admit, I’ve used my cell phone while riding once or twice, and I’ve eaten a sandwich or two while pedaling around the neighborhood. And what about messengers? They use their phones while riding all the time.

How would cyclists do in a survey like this?

[Hat tip to KGW.com]

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