Hawaii near last in national drivers test

Shere'e Young
Shere'e Young
Gary Au
Gary Au

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Can you pass a written driver's test if you had to take one today? A national survey found about 20 percent of American drivers cannot, according to the fifth annual GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test. The study also compared drivers state to state.

So how did Hawaii do? Well, not very well. We finished almost dead last. Forty nine out of fifty one, to be exact. Drivers we talked to aren't surprised by this at all, and some say Hawaii needs better driver education to improve.

About 1.3 million people call Hawaii home and a lot of them drive. Oahu has about three quarters of the state's population. That equals to a lot of drivers.

"Most states can drive state to state. We can drive in a circle," said Shere'e Young, a 22-year-old Kapolei resident who has been driving since she was sixteen years old.

She has a clean driving record, but she lives in a state that finished near the bottom of a national drivers test.

In the GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test, Idaho and Wisconsin tied for first with 80.6 percent. Hawaii finished forty ninth, with 72.0 percent. Only New Jersey (71.5 percent) and New York (70.5 percent) finished lower.

Young wasn't surprised.

"Well, we are a small island so there's not much we can go and learn off of," she said.

Driving instructor Gary Au says there are some reasons why Hawaii is so low on the list.

"Number one, there's a lot of vehicles," he said. "Number two, there's a lot of drivers. Number three, the roadways are not sufficient enough to support all these people."

Number four, drivers not paying attention when they get behind the wheel.

"Not checking their blind spots before changing lanes, two hands on the steering wheel, and basically not focusing on the driving task itself," said Au.

The other thing a lot of drivers tend to do is tailgate. So it's important to leave a two to three second gap between you and the car in front of you so you have time to react.

Young has never been in an accident and is licensed to drive, but when she took the national drivers test, she didn't do so well.

"Were you surprised at your result?" asked KHNL.

"I was very surprised," she said. "I guess there's a lot of things I don't realize."

Au says continued driver education is the key in helping Hawaii drivers become better drivers.

"For the parents, take a good look at what your teenagers are doing and provide them with a defensive driving course, and don't wait until they get into a collision," he said. "That's too late."

Men did better than women on the test, but that gap is shrinking, only 2 percentage points separate the genders. Eighty-one percent of men passed versus 79 percent of women.

If you want to take the test, click the link on this page.