October 6, 2010 by Canadian Underwriter
Almost 90% of respondents in a 2010 University of Calgary study failed a basic, rules-of-the-road test modeled after the province’s Class 7 learner’s permit exam.
“It’s shocking,” says Sabreena Anowar, an engineering graduate student who specializes in road safety and analyzed the survey data. She was interviewed about the survey results in the university’s online news site, UToday.
“Obviously, not many drivers in Alberta have an acceptable level of knowledge when it comes to the rules of the road,” Anowar said. “Drivers needed to answer 25 out of 30 questions correctly in order to pass the test and the average score was 22.”
The AMA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned the survey and 2,394 Albertans took the test. Drivers were quizzed on everything from merging and right-of-way to the meanings of road markings and signs, safe following distances and what to do if vehicles skid.
Even after removing questions related to graduated driver licensing, parking and demerit points (these are not considered directly related to driving and road safety), the pass rate was still low – between 23% and 39%.
The majority of the participants, 82%, reported having more than 10 years of driving experience. Another 10% reported having five to 10 years of experience behind the wheel.
Male drivers scored higher than females. Younger people did better than older drivers. People with motorcycle and professional licenses performed better than drivers of passenger cars.
“It’s clear from this research that most Alberta drivers could benefit from a regular review of the rules of the road to refresh their memories and knowledge,” says Scott Wilson, senior policy analyst with the Alberta Motor Association. “We will use these survey results to encourage a review of current driver education programs and how to make driver testing and licensing more effective.”
Wilson added mandatory re-testing of drivers is unlikely to be recommended because previous research indicates it would have little to no impact on road safety. Any changes to driver testing and licensing would require the involvement of Alberta Transportation.