Do you consider yourself to be a good driver? If so, you've got lots of company.
In a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. drivers by Allstate Insurance, 64 percent of respondents rated themselves as either "excellent" or "very good" drivers. But that confidence in driving ability doesn't extend far; the respondents said that only 29 percent of their close friends and only 22 percent of people their own age deserved an excellent or very good rating.
The Allstate survey found some significant differences in responses among various groups. For example, while 36 percent of the men surveyed gave themselves an excellent rating, only 26 percent of the women thought they deserved that designation. Thirty-five percent of college-educated drivers considered themselves excellent drivers, while only 28 percent of those without degrees claimed that distinction.
Respondents were in agreement, however, about who doesn't drive well. Their biggest criticism was saved for teenage drivers; four of every five respondents said teens either were "average" or "poor" drivers. Seventy percent gave senior drivers poor scores. Parents driving with children were rated average or poor drivers by 33 percent of those surveyed; only 26 percent of respondents declared that those parents were good drivers.
Those surveyed also don't seem to trust their neighbors on the road. Drivers from adjacent states earned ratings of "average" or "poor" from 53 percent of respondents; only 8 percent considered drivers in neighboring states to be "excellent" or "very good."
In other words, according to the survey, many Americans consider themselves to be good drivers -- and nearly everyone else to be maniacs on the road. But even drivers who gave themselves the highest scores acknowledge dangerous behind-the-wheel behavior that was inconsistent with their self-assessments.
More than 70 percent of survey respondents, for example, acknowledged they've either caused or almost caused an accident because they were distracted while driving. For young drivers, texting is particularly distracting; 63 percent of drivers ages 18 to 29, and 58 percent of those between 30 and 44 said they have sent text messages while driving.
Almost nine out of 10 surveyed drivers admitted speeding, and 20 percent said they've exceeded the posted limits by more than 20 miles per hour. Almost half said they've been guilty of driving while tired -- and have almost fallen asleep at the wheel. Nearly one-fourth of the men responding (23 percent) confessed to driving while intoxicated. Meanwhile, only 6 percent of women said they've driven while under the influence.
It's perhaps not surprising, then, that more than half (58 percent) of the surveyed drivers said they've had an accident, but only 28 percent acknowledge the accident was their fault.
The drivers surveyed -- and all drivers who allow their attention to wander when they're behind the wheel -- might do well to ponder some statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the CDC, more than 15 people are killed and more than 1,200 people are injured every day in the United States in crashes that involve distracted driving. So until drivers learn to stay off their cellphones, put down their travel mugs and refrain from snacking while behind the wheel, it's questionable whether they actually deserve those high ratings that they give themselves.