What makes someone a good or bad driver? It depends. There are a number of ways to look at driving ability. Skill is important — a person’s ability to parallel park; navigate around obstacles; handle busy highways; and maneuver through ice, snow and rain. But safety is also critical — attentiveness, patience and caution, quick reflexes and following the rules of the road.
To get a clearer picture of America’s drivers and their skills, we surveyed more than 100 drivers in each of 25 major cities — 2,605 people in all — and asked about their driving. Here’s what we learned:
- Overall, American drivers rated themselves highly in both areas (skill and safety).
- On a five-star scale, respondents gave themselves 4.1 stars for skill and 4.3 for safety, on average.
- They rated themselves four-star drivers or better when it came to driving on busy highways (4.3 out of 5), navigating traffic in the rain (4.2) and making three-point turns (4.1).
- The self-assessed ratings dropped slightly for driving in ice and snow (3.7 out of 5) and parallel parking (3.5).
How does this self-assessment stack up against the national traffic safety picture? Can it really be true that most Americans are above-average drivers? There is some speculation that drivers tend to overestimate their skill on the road, which gives us reason to look at other statistics.
- Only 32% of Americans have never been in a car accident, which means that more than two-thirds of drivers have filed an accident report at least once.
- About half those wrecks resulted in minor vehicle damage, although a comparable number saw major property or vehicular damage.