The findings of a new survey of nearly 600 American drivers indicate a clear gap in knowledge as it concerns safe driving.  -  Photo:  unsplash.com/James Coleman

The findings of a new survey of nearly 600 American drivers indicate a clear gap in knowledge as it concerns safe driving.

Photo: unsplash.com/James Coleman

Just 37% of drivers rated their knowledge of traffic laws, road signs, and adherence to safe driving habits as "very high," according to a new survey from Progressive.

The survey of 599 American drivers explores their understanding of the rules of the road. The findings indicate a clear gap in knowledge as it concerns safe driving.

For example, when it came to basic driving rules, most drivers — 85% — understood how to properly change a lane by signaling and checking the rearview mirror and blind spots before moving over. However, fewer respondents — just 69% — knew that pedestrians crossing with the light have the right of way.

Testing drivers’ knowledge of rules of the road didn't stop there. When asked whether crossing a double yellow line is ever acceptable, just 66% said it is never an acceptable practice. On the upside, over two-thirds (76%) of drivers understood that orange construction signs and cones on an expressway mean that they should be prepared for workers and equipment ahead.

Left lane practices reveal quite a bit of variance in behavior. Only 16% of drivers reported using the left lane for passing 100% of the time. Thirty-four percent of drivers say they sometimes intentionally stay in the left lane, and when asked if they ever stay in the left lane to punish another driver's poor behavior, 7% admitted to doing so regularly.

Some of the inconsistencies in driving rule knowledge could be due to differing state laws, notes Progressive. Laws about left lane usage, for example, vary from state to state. Some states prohibit you from driving in the left lane if you are going below the speed limit, while others prohibit driving in the left lane at all unless passing another vehicle.

When it came to risky driving behaviors, regional differences also played a role. For example, while 21% of New Englanders report speeding half the time, only 13% of Southerners said they drove above the speed limit 50% of the time. 

More Southerners than any other region (41%) also rated themselves as following the rules of the road repeatedly. And, Southerners use their turn signal more than other regions, with 67% saying they always used their turn signal compared to 59% in the Northeast and West.

Perhaps it’s no surprise then that drivers in the South had fewer collisions than those in other regions of the country. Some 86% of Southerners said they haven't had an accident in the last five years.

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