disputing science

Why Are New Yorkers Such Bad Drivers?

For the second year in a row, a survey by GMAC insurance finds that New York has the worst drivers in the country. But, in our opinion, the methodology behind the rankings might not be entirely fair. GMAC determined its scores by giving a survey, composed of questions taken from different state driving tests, to 5,000 people across the country. New Yorkers scored the worst on the test, with an average score of 70. Why such a bad score? Wade Bontrager, a senior vice-president for GMAC Insurance, has a couple of theories for the test’s geographic disparities, both of which demonstrate why New York is at a disadvantage here.

1. “Because people that drive in very congested areas lose sight of the rules of the road.” This is true, in a way. If you define a good driver as someone who has memorized rules like “What do you do at a flashing yellow light?” or “When is it appropriate to drive off a paved roadway to pass another car?” — two situations on the test that don’t come up very often in the city — then okay, fair enough. But when you drive in New York City, the only rule is to make it to your destination without dying or killing someone else. Considering the congested, obstacle-laden environment, it takes a pretty good driver to accomplish that.

2. “Another theory: people in states with large metropolitan areas tend to take public transit more often and lose some of their driving skills.” Yes, obviously! We’re just not driving as much as everyone else. Ask the good people of Kansas or South Dakota about the “rules of the subway” and see how well they perform. How many failed MetroCard swipes should you give the person in front of you before emitting an audible sigh? (Three.) Who are you supposed to offer your seat to? (Old people, pregnant women, small children, people with canes or crutches, attractive members of the gender in which you are sexually interested.) How do you examine the wall-mounted map without freaking out the person sitting in front of it? (Craning of the head, faux squinting.) You didn’t know that, did you, Kansas?

The States With the Worst Drivers [ABC News]

Why Are New Yorkers Such Bad Drivers?