City Desk

D.C. Drivers: America’s Dumbest!

You know that stereotype about Washington being a city of strivers and overachievers and grade-grubbers?

It doesn't apply behind the wheel.

An annual traffic-rules survey has ranked D.C. 51st in the country when it comes to driver know-how. The test asked 20 questions that commonly appear on the written portions of drivers' license exams–including questions asking for the meaning of a diamond-shaped road sign, and asking what represents the safest following distance in normal traffic conditions.

GMAC, which sponsored the test, hired a survey firm to conduct it. The test surveyed 5,130 respondents and was balanced by gender, age, and ethnicity, according to the firm. At least 100 respondents from each state and the District were included.

D.C.'s drivers averaged a score of 71.8% on the test, barely higher than the passing mark of 70%. Until this year's test, New York held the title of worst driving state for three years in a row.

But anyone contemplating the roads around Washington City Paper's Adams Morgan offices can rest assured: A highly scientific survey of two City Paper staffers found that the paper scores 80% on the test. Think you can do better? Take the test here (though you'll have to share your email with the test's sponsor in order to see how you rank).

We've reached out to the D.C.'s DMV, the folks who administer the city's written drivers' exam, for help explaining the poor grades. We'll update this post when they respond.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • MDE

    I'm sick of DC being compared to other states. Compare DC drivers to NYC drivers, Boston drivers or LA drivers and you'll get a different story.

  • El Pollster

    This survey of DC is biased - I'll bet they only dialed landlines...and landlines are disproportionately held in this city by older, less educated folks that do not represent the "educated gov't worker" stereotype of the city

  • seDCdude

    I call bullshit, cuz' everybody know VIRGINIA has the absolute worst drivers in this region....hands down!

  • noodlez

    IM WIT YA seDCdude ON THAT VIRGINIA SHIT!

    DC DRIVERS ARE LIKE LUKE SKYWALKER WE USE THE FORCE WHEN WE ARE DRIVING. WE ARE TWO MOVES AHEAD ON OUR NEXT MANUEVER. FLIPPIN ALL THEM SORRY ASS VA. DRIVERS OFF AFTER WE HIT THEM WITH THE HORN FOR THEIR ATTENTION TO CATCH THE BIRD AS WE ZOOM BY, WHILE WE ARE UPDATIN OUR FACEBOOK PAGE, DOWN SHIFTING AND EATING OUR FRIES OUT THE BAG AS WE TRY TO KEEP UP WITH BUSTA’S VERSE ON ‘LOOK AT ME NOW’.

    VA. DRIVERS ARE LIKE STORMTROOPERS LOOKING FOR DIRECTION FROM STREET SIGNS AND A RECALCULATING GPS WHILE THEY CONTINUE TO DRIVE LOST AND ARE ABOUT TO CAUSE AN ACCIDENT CAUSE THEY ARE ABOUT TO SPILL THEIR MOCHA LACHA CAPPA ON THEIR LAPPA CAUSING MAYHEM!

    MD FOLKS ARE JUST AS BAD THEY THINK THEY KNOW HOW TO DRIVE IN AN URBAN SETTING. CITY STREETS ARE MUCH BUSIER THAN THEIR ROADS AND EXPRESSWAYS. STEP YALL GAME UP OR ITS QUACK. QUACK. AFLAC!

    GMAC = MICHELLE RHEE-THINKING TESTING US FOLK HERE IN WDC SHOWS OUR APTITUDE. GET THE FUCK!

  • poetmaggie

    I think drivers are more selfish and rebellious than dumb. It is the "best" place to drive off frustrations and they do. A driver can't count on getting into or out of traffic the light turns red and 3 more cars cross before opposing traffic can move. People are using the road to work out their rages.

  • Typical DC BS

    Sorry, everyone here sucks at driving.

  • Truth Hurts

    yes, the entire metro area has way too many bad and/or nasty drivers. It's been this way for at least 10 years and is getting worse.

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  • http://ehrselector.com Carl Bergman

    This is a self selected survey, not a statistical sample. It cannot be held as representative of anyone. GMAC has the bucks to do this right, but didn't.

    Even the premise is suspect, is there any known correlation between knowledge of the traffic rules and driving safety?

  • JP

    I wonder what percentage of the people surveyed regularly drive. I am guessing DC and NYC have more people without cars than anywhere else. They might not know how to drive, but they may not actually be drivers.

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