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Could you pass a simple driver's test? Many people can't do itPosted Friday, June 11, 2010, at 4:19 PM
The next time you're driving down State Road 57 or State Road 54 make a mental note of five random vehicles as they are passing you.
Odds are, one of the drivers isn't able to pass a written driving test.
A recent survey by a major insurance company has found that some 41 million American drivers -- about 20 percent -- would fail a written driving test if they had to take it today.
Now that is scary, but not really surprising.
According to the results of the GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test, Indiana ranked seventh in the nation with an average score of 80.4 percent, which beat out the national average of 76.2 percent.
Kansas topped the nation with an average score of 82.3 percent, while the bottom state, New York, had an average score of 70 percent.
Some driver's test questions were especially tough for people -- 85 percent couldn't identify the correct action to take when approaching a steady yellow light.
The correct answer? "Stop if it is safe to do so."
Did you know that you re breaking the law in most states if you don't clear the intersection before the signal turns red. You also may be charged if you accelerate rapidly to beat a red light or if you had time to stop safely but didn't.
Stopping for a red light you would think would be a no-brainer.
But being a regular commuter on State Road 57 near the aged Newberry twin bridges that have each had stoplights installed to restrict traffic to a single lane for a couple of months now, I can tell you there are drivers in this county who do not know what to do at a red light.
I have witnessed several ease up to one of the bridge red lights and then gun it and move quickly across the bridge in violation of clearly marked signs.
This has happened during daylight and nighttime hours.
What are they thinking?
I can tell you a good place for one of our fine law enforcement officers to sit and observe would be near either bridge -- going north or south.
Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation have told us that the bridge is old and its structural integrity needs preserved so their solution has been to restrict traffic to a single lane -- controlled by an automatic signal light.
Now, I don't like the lane restriction at all and it makes my blood pressure rise to know that the bridges will be like they are now until at least the year 2013 when INDOT says the bridges will be replaced with modern structures.
I can also tell you that the thought of driving across two old bridges that obviously has some engineering problems makes me a little squeamish every time I motor across them. It is probably wise for any of us who regularly use the bridges to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving or shout "Praise the Lord" every time we safely cross over.
Now, I am probably the most impatient driver around, but when the light turns red, you can bet I am going to stop -- every time.
From experience, I can also tell you there are advantages to hailing from a small, poor county where four-lane highways currently do not exist.
A couple of years ago, I was motoring north on Interstate 69 near Fort Wayne and was pulled over by a not so nice female Indiana State Police trooper who had nailed me because I had not merged left fast enough when I passed her cruiser that was parked on the side of the road.
She quickly marched up to my driver's side window and commenced to give me a heated tongue-lashing about the law about merging left.
I was guilty, but I thought it was worth a try to tell her I came from a county that did not have one single four-lane road, thus I was not that familiar with that particular merging law.
When I told her there were no four-lane roads in Greene County she laughed.
I told her to go check her map and if there was a four-lane road in my county, she could write me a ticket.
She hurried back to her cruiser and in the rear view mirror I watched as she first looked at her map and then I could see her talking on her radio.
Soon she returned and confessed that my hometown county was indeed one of only about two out of the 92 counties in the state that did not have any four-lane roads.
The trooper smiled slightly and sent me on my way without a citation that day.
I guess it does pay sometimes to come from a poor backwoods county in southern Indiana. But when I-69 in completed through the county in about two years, I guess that excuse will no longer be valid.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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