School bus stopIt turns out that more than 44% of 500 drivers surveyed could not get a passing score on a written driving test, as Kathy Kristof writes for MoneyWatch in an article appearing on CBSNews.com.

The survey was conducted by CarInsurance.com, which reports that nearly half of the drivers who took a 20-question driver’s test quiz failed to get a passing score of 80%. The test questions came from state practice tests and covered the basics, like signs and rights of way. The questions that people missed most often were those about stopping for school buses and pedestrians.

Women did better on the test than men, with an average score of 78%, as compared with men’s 71%, CarInsurance.com writes. And drivers over age 40 did better, with an average score of 79% as compared with drivers under age 40, who averaged 67% correct.

CarInsurance.com writes that in a 2011 report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) called the overall testing process for drivers in the U.S. “weak” as compared with those in other countries.

The knowledge section of a state test (as opposed to the in-vehicle part) averages 25 questions long, and takes about 25 minutes to complete. Minimum passing requirements vary from state to state, ranching from 70 to 5% correct, with the average being 79%.

CarInsurance.com writes:

The NHTSA report found that driving tests are quite similar in most states, but a few were deemed easier or harder than the norm, based on failure rates for written and road tests and a survey of drivers in each state who had just taken the examinations. If you are looking for an easier test, head to Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas or West Virginia. If you like a challenge, Connecticut, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Tennessee are where you want to be.

Although CarInsurance.com considers the tests “relatively simple,” it notes that “U.S. failure rates were eye-opening, according to the NHTSA report. That report found that 31.8% of those taking the knowledge portion of the test in Colorado failed to pass it, based on data from 2007.

The CarInsurance.com article points out that a person can retake the test any number of times in order to get a good score: “A failed driving test will not show up on your driving record, so your car insurance company has no way of knowing that you were clueless about parallel parking.”

And in a hopeful note, Futurist Thomas Frey, executive director at the DaVinci Institute, believes that the driver’s test will one day go away, with the advent of self-driving cars, as CarInsurance.com writes:

‘Today’s driver’s license will morph into a national ID, which you will use to access driverless vehicles, and other services,’ Frey says. ‘You may have to swipe it to prove your identity to the robot delivery driver before they will release your package; it could be used for medical identification and to pay for items.’

Image by sun dazed (Katy Warner).

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