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Jax Daily Record Friday, Jun. 4, 201012:00 PM EST

GMAC: Florida drivers not the most knowledgeable

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from staff

Florida drivers are among the least knowledgeable drivers on the road out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to GMAC Insurance based on its National Drivers Test.

For 2010, Florida drivers rank No. 41 with an average score of 75.2, compared with the drivers in Kansas, the best at 82.3, and in New York, the worst at 70.

Florida drivers don’t appear to be improving much.

Florida drivers rose from No. 43 in 2009 but fell from No. 28 in 2008. The average grade for drivers in the Sunshine State rose from 74.1 in 2009 but dropped from 78.6 in 2008

GMAC reported that its sixth annual test indicates that about 38 million licensed drivers in the country lack basic driving knowledge. It surveyed 5,202 drivers representative of the 50 states and D.C. who completed 20 questions from Department of Motor Vehicle tests.

GMAC found two primary trouble spots: Following too closely and not knowing what to do at a traffic light displaying a steady yellow signal (which GMAC says is to stop if it is safe to do so).

Nearly all drivers, 97 percent, know what to do when an emergency vehicle with flashing lights approaches (pull over to the right and stop); how to keep from hydroplaning (slow down on wet roads); and the meaning of a solid yellow line (do not pass).

GMAC also found that nationwide, the older the driver, the higher the score. Males over the age of 45 earned the highest average test score. Males also outperformed females overall in terms of average score (78.1 percent male versus 74.4 percent female) and failure rates (24 percent female versus 18.1 percent male).

The survey also found that drivers are distracted. In addition to the 20-question exam, GMAC asked about habits and found:

• 52 percent of drivers talk with passengers while driving.

• About 25 percent of drivers admitted to talking on a cell phone, selecting songs on an iPod or CD, adjusting the radio or eating while driving.

• 5 percent reported they text while driving.

Overall, a significantly higher percentage of females than males reported engaging in the following distracting situations: conversation with passengers, selecting songs on an iPod or CD/adjusting the radio, talking on a cell phone, eating, applying makeup and reading.

To take the test and review the answers, visit www.gmacinsurance.com.

Top driving mistakes that cause crashes

Multitasking while driving

When you turn the car on, turn the gadgets off. No matter how busy your day is, when you’re on the road, focus only on driving. Catch up on other activities later.

Following too closely

One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two. Leave at least a two-second cushion between you and the vehicle ahead. It could save your bumper and your life. Make sure to double or triple that time when the weather is bad or the pavement is slick.

Failure to yield on a left turn

Check the flow before you go. Look at the street you are turning into to make sure that no vehicles or pedestrians are in your path.

Incorrect merging

Yellow is for yield. Accidents often occur when you are stuck behind a driver who interprets yield as stop. Don’t be the guilty party. Use the ramp as a means for merging into traffic, not causing it.

Backing up

Look over your shoulder. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. Your mirrors have a margin of error; don’t rely on them alone. Look over your shoulder before backing up.

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