If you ask any terrible motorist how skilled they are behind the wheel, the response is often the same. “Oh, I’m a great driver,” they’ll say with a self-assured smile. Meanwhile, you’re left holding back a series of screaming rants that involve first-hand accounts of why their claim couldn’t possibly be accurate. But what about the rest of the country?
As it turns out, the general consensus in the United States is that most people think they’re a fine driver. But things get a little more complicated when you drive into people’s habits behind the wheel. In a recent survey, Driving-tests.org found that 60.8 percent of surveyed Americans thought they were an above-average driver. While that percentage can only be an impossibility, some of the claimed behaviors were slightly better than a comparative sample of international respondents.
By comparison, the group’s international survey only yielded a 50.6-percent portion of drivers who considered themselves “above average.” But the majority thought they could still outperform the typical American motorist.
However, getting into the nitty-gritty, U.S. respondents were more likely to engage in safe driving practices when compared to the rest of the world. They were significantly more willing to signal while changing lanes or preparing for a turn and slightly more apt to wear a seatbelt and come to a complete stop.
Still, the perception among the global community is that the U.S. isn’t brimming with safe drivers. Only 2.3 percent of the international community thought America had the best drivers. Fortunately, even fewer thought it was the worst. But, when asked to look at itself in the mirror, 16.4 percent of U.S. respondents claimed their home country was the worst — with China and India trailing behind at 7.3 and 5.6 percent, respectively.
Conversely, the perception of German drivers was exceptionally positive — both in America and abroad. Over 19 percent of the international community considered Germany as the country with the best drivers and 8.7 percent of surveyed Americans were in agreement. In fact, after the United States, Deutschland was the country Americans were most likely to claim had superior skills behind the wheel — followed by Canada.
The study cited Germany’s rather stringent licensing test procedures as one reason it might have the perception of housing the world’s best drivers. It also might explain why countries like India were looked upon less favorably, as its road-readiness testing is laughably basic.
Unfortunately, the sample sizes of the survey were fairly meager. About 1,000 drivers were included in the research, half from the U.S. and half from abroad, and we don’t know were the majority of the global respondents reside. Presumably, the majority could have been from one or two countries. If so, that could have skewed the international data rather dramatically. But, even if that is the case, it doesn’t make the questions posited any less important.
Every country should strive to have the best driving record it can manage. While I’m about to suggest American males’ tendency to disregard speed limits by a larger margin than their international counterparts causes more accidents, the U.S. could certainly shore up its accident rates and do everything in its power to reduce incidents of intoxicated driving.
Humility may even play a factor in achieving those goals. After all, why would you check yourself when you already assume you’re doing a great job? The secret to being a good driver is making a continued effort to be better than you were the last time you got behind the wheel, not proclaiming yourself as king of the road while you fiddle with the radio in traffic or doze off.
The survey includes numerous interesting tidbits and graphs we didn’t touch upon, as well as resources to help become a better driver. If you’re interested, and you probably should be, the site even has practice tests for every state’s DMV. We would be curious to see what score everyone gets in the comments section.