We recently surveyed 599 American drivers to see how much they knew about the rules of the road and to self-assess their driving skills. The results show a clear gap in knowledge when it comes to driving safety, with an opportunity to continue driver education and improve road safety culture.
Survey results show inconsistent knowledge of basic driving rules and road signs
In our survey, we asked drivers to identify different signs and rules of the road to see how much they remembered. The results show that drivers know certain signs and rules more than others. Only 37% of surveyed drivers rated their knowledge of roadway laws, signs, and adherence to safe driving habits as "very high."
Respondents performed well on certain road signs, with 94% of drivers recognizing the sign for a lane ending and 88% for a divided highway. Drivers were less knowledgeable about other signs, with 79% of drivers recognizing the sign for a winding road and only 65% recognizing a school crossing sign.
The importance of keeping up with updated driving rules
Many surveyed drivers aren't keeping up with evolving safety recommendations. Thirty-four percent of respondents took a driving test more than 20 years ago, and 83% learned to drive from their parents/guardians, family members, or friends. Such large gaps in education can leave drivers with outdated knowledge.
For example, 10 and 2 were once considered the proper hand positions on the steering wheel. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) now recommends 9 and 3 because it's much safer to have your hands in this position when an airbag deploys. Only 20% of respondents in our survey knew that 9 and 3 is the correct hand position — a clear gap in knowledge of current safe driving practices.
How do I become a better driver?
Fischer says there are some key things you can do to be safer: buckle up, don't speed, never drink and drive, avoid distractions, get enough sleep, and call each other out. "If you're sitting in a passenger seat and your spouse or friend picks up the phone, call them out. Tell them, 'Hey, I don't feel safe.'"
To brush up on the rules of the road, Fischer also recommends taking a defensive driving course. Not only does it teach you how to drive safely, but a course may also help reduce your auto insurance rate with a defensive driving discount.
To improve your driving habits, you can enroll in a usage-based car insurance program like Progressive's Snapshot. These insurance programs use mobile apps to measure your driving for events like hard braking, speeding, and distracted driving. Reviewing your driving habits can help you be more mindful of how you behave on the road. Safe driving habits can also lower your auto insurance rate.
No matter what you do, following the rules of the road and avoiding aggressive driving, tailgating, and other risky behaviors behind the wheel can make you and the roads safer.
Protect yourself wherever the road takes you
Get a car insurance quote online or chat with an agent to find the right coverage for you. Drivers nationwide who switch and save with Progressive save nearly $750 on average.*