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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