Hawaii’s driving skills are questionable, testable
Like Rain Man, you probably think you're an excellent driver. Generally speaking, reality begs to differ.
Hawaii ranked 45th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia on a 20-question GMAC Insurance
National Drivers Test.
The minimum passing score is 70 percent.
We averaged 76.3 percent, and the national average was 78.1 percent.
Kansas is driving the pace car with an average score of 84. New Jersey is in last place, with an average of 69.9. It's probably tailgating, too.
The numerical rankings are sort of insignificant as Hawaii, was No. 23 last year with a 77.4 percent, but a much better 2006 score of 80.7 percent had us at No. 45, where we are again this year.
At least 100 people from D.C. and each state took the test, and 21.7 percent of Hawaii's test-takers failed, GMAC said. Nationally, 16.4 percent failed. GMAC did the math -- that's 33 million drivers.
Higher premiums, anyone?
Four teenagers within range of your columnist took the test. The two with learner's permits scored 70 and 75. The other two scored 60 percent and 70 percent -- they are almost-15-year-olds who have never cracked open an orange Hawaii Driver's Manual.
GMAC found that the older the driver, the higher the score. Drivers 35 and older were more likely to pass.
The columnist those teenagers warmly deride for decrepitude scored a 90. The two wrong answers were disappointing.
Beyond an embarrassing state ranking or poor score, one plows into a hard fact. Drivers who don't know or who ignore rules-of-the-road basics, cause crashes.
The "Top Driving Mistakes," according to GMAC, are multi-tasking behind the wheel rather than focusing on driving; following too closely; failing to yield on a left turn; incorrect merging; and backing up badly, depending on side mirrors instead of looking over a shoulder.
The list does not include driving under the influence, but that's more than just a mistake.
No matter how many traffic-safety stories the media puts out there, pitched by police departments, MADD, insurance companies and others, tragedies still mar graduation season and family vacations still end in unbearable grief.
"We all need to make safety our top priority, review the basic road rules and put them into practice every day," said Wade Bontrager, GMAC vice president.
GMAC recommends brushing up on safe driving tips. The Hawaii Driver's Manual is widely available for less than $5 and is free online.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com