A few days ago, GMAC released a report of the states with the worst drivers, based on 20-question tests administered to over 5,000 people. The survey resulted in a list of 50 states, plus the District of Columbia (which is only counted as a state when the results for it are bad), ranked in order of how well people did on this test. I was originally offended by the fact that my state, New Jersey, finished second to worst, until I realized that I was reading the article about this survey on my cell phone while I was driving. But that doesn't mean that I can't drive, it just means that I can multi-task...
My distaste for this GMAC report rests not within the results, but within the fact that GMAC used a written test to determine how well people in certain states can drive. That doesn't sound like the best idea. Perhaps Major League Baseball should administer a written test to see who the best power hitter is, and then the White House can administer a test about the Constitution to find the next President. That will be great: our next President will be a third grader who just prepared for the big History Bee. The proof of the flawed nature of this test can be seen in the fact that Idaho and Wisconsin finished first, followed by Montana in third, Kansas in fourth, and then South Dakota and Nebraska in a tie for fifth. Idaho is not allowed to finish first in anything -- that's actually in the Constitution (I checked). Clearly we don't need a test to rank the states according to driving quality. Just multiply the percentage of old people per capita by the number of amusing billboards for people to read, and let the rankings flow from there...
GMAC revealed that the worst drivers hailed from New York, followed by New Jersey, Hawaii, California and Georgia, in that order. Considering that the worst drivers hail from states where traffic is spelled with seven letters and a middle finger, and the best come from states where the only traffic is the tumbleweed that flies by, I would say that the questions were a bit tainted. To verify this, I took a closer look (www.nationaldriverstest.com). It is flawed from the very first question:
1. A pedestrian is crossing your lane but there is no crosswalk. You should:
A. Make sure the pedestrian sees you, but continue driving.
B. Stop and let the pedestrian cross the street.
C. Carefully drive around the pedestrian.
It is no wonder that those in NY and NJ could not answer this question. NY and NJ drivers needed a choice D: pretend to hit the person and then yell out, "Psyche! I was just messing with ya!" This also explains why Hawaii residents did so poorly. I don't think they have crosswalks, except for the paths between trees that are made out of coconuts...
But the madness doesn't end there. Take a look at this question:
3. A traffic light with a flashing red signal means:
Those in NY and NJ know that the real answer is not there: a flashing red light means that the light is broken so no rules apply. As for Hawaii, this question is not really valid. Red lights there indicate that a luau is nearby, and I don't see that as an option above either...
Wait... How about this one:
7. If, while driving, a tire suddenly blows out, you should:
A. Grip the steering wheel firmly, slow down, and exit from the traffic lanes.
B. Pump the brakes rapidly.
C. Brake hard and steer toward the right edge of the roadway.
Perhaps I am not seeing correctly, but where is choice D: complain about it, pull over, and then complain some more until someone else works out the situation for you. Hawaii residents have it even worse because their tires are made out of pineapples, so when they blow out, they must drink the pineapple juice coming out of the tires before the streets flood and they are fined. Yet that is not an option on this test...
So I implore GMAC that the next time it releases a report of this nature, make sure the basis for the report is not flawed. I realized it's possible that this report was a way to raise the self-esteem of those in South Dakota, who haven't had bragging rights since, well, ever. Still, NJ drivers can beat drivers from Idaho and Wisconsin any day of the week as long as, you know, no potato trucks are involved...