Are you a good driver?

By | June 19th, 2017

Are you a good driver? Serious question.

Don’t answer just yet. Experts say it’s not how you feel about your skills — most surveys suggest people consistently overrate their driving acumen — but how other drivers feel about you. A recent study by CheapCarInsurance.net offers a clue: It says a full 19% of drivers are cut off by another motorist daily.

“If people are flipping you off and honking at you and flashing their brights at you all the time, you are doing something wrong,” says Walter Meyer, a veteran traffic safety consultant. “Are you driving too slow in the left lane? Are you failing to signal or take your turn? Yes, there are jerks who will honk at you or give you the finger for no reason, but if it is happening to you on a regular basis, then you are the problem.”

So, are you the problem? This is the right time to ask, when your spring break road trip is directly in front of you and, farther down the road, a long drive to reach your summer destination. It turns out there are a variety of ways you can evaluate your road skills.

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Since I asked, let me answer the question. I’m on the road about 300 days a year, and I love to drive. I was taken aback when a friend recently handed me the keys to his car when I was staying with him. “You are the best driver I know,” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“I don’t know anyone who drives as much as you do,” he said.

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Aw, shucks. But I wouldn’t equate hours of experience with skill. I remember the last time I drove in Europe. I’m not quite sure why, but I was the guy getting honked at and cut off and other things that aren’t publishable.

As they say in German, Entschuldigung.

“A good driver actually makes the road safe for the bad drivers out there,” says Joe Giammona, CEO of the Driver Training Group, the parent company of two national driving schools.

There are objective ways of telling whether you are, by the way. One new way is HighwayHero, an app developed by Liberty Mutual. It tracks and scores driving behavior based on acceleration, hard braking, hard cornering, speeding and phone usage while driving. When the ride is over, the app offers feedback and scores you against other drivers. You can qualify for discounts.


I asked the company what the app had told it about how Americans drive. The results were encouraging on first glance. Overall, the average HighwayHero score among users is 84 out of 100, which is indicative of a good driver. The two biggest problem areas: speeding and phone use.

That’s right, people with a phone app that scored their driving and who knew they were being evaluated used their phone while driving.

You can get even more detailed data with an app called Automatic, which plugs directly into your vehicle’s diagnostic port. Dave Delaney, who runs a company called Owner Operator Direct, which sells truck insurance, likes the License+ companion app, a coaching tool designed for new drivers that rates your driving skills and allows you to work with a designated driving coach. It rates you against other drivers.

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“It answers the question, ‘Am I really better than average — or do I just think that?’ ” Delaney says.

Most bad drivers can be rehabilitated, but not all of them. Two years ago, Mark Hughes found that his eyesight had deteriorated to the point where he couldn’t clearly see the road, thanks to macular and myopic degeneration.

“I quit driving cold turkey,” says Hughes, a retired college instructor and historian who lives in Kings Mountain, N.C. “My doctor asked me, ‘How many wrecks did you have?’ I replied, ‘None.’ ”

Good call. Driving is inherently risky. Why push your luck?

The three riskiest driving behaviors

• Drinking and driving. Most traffic-related deaths are caused by drunken drivers. Don’t drink and drive, and stay off the roads when drunken drivers are likely to be out and about, such as holiday weekends.

• Driving while tired. In a recent survey by Klashwerks, more than 5% of the respondents admitted to closing their eyes or sleeping while driving. Needless to say, sleeping and driving are incompatible.

• Speeding. A full 35% of drivers admit to driving fast, an activity known to increase the risk of an accident. Drive the speed limit, and you’re more likely to come home alive.



  • Jeff W.

    Certainly good advice.

    But word of caution regarding the speed limit. Where I live, the expressways/tollways run fast. You will be run over if you driving “only” the speed limit. If you wish to drive 55 (or whatever the posted limit), do that in the middle or right lane. The left lane is the passing lane. You can even get a ticket for failing to yield to driver who wishes to pass.

  • finance_tony

    You’re right, of course, but I’ve always wondered about that. If a car going 70mph in a 70mph zone, and someone catches up and wants to pass…and there’s only one cop…who gets the ticket? The one blocking the lane, or the one who exceeded the speed limit to get up there?

  • FQTVLR

    Same here in the Atlanta area. Even if you are at the 65 MPH speed limit people still fly by. Here traffic law seems to be just a suggestion.

  • James

    IT probably depends on the flow of traffic. On a road in California I was recently driving with the traffic at about 80 MPH in a 65 zone — and was passed by a state policeman. He didn’t pull over anybody in this group of cars.

  • FQTVLR

    In Georgia if the slower driver, regardless of speed, is impeding faster traffic in the left lane then that slower driver will more likely get the ticket. After all, the one that caught up might only be going a couple miles an hour over the limit–and most cops/troopers do not stop you on a major highway for exceeding the limit by a couple miles an hour. They apply a different standard in residential and crowded commercial areas.

  • James

    Way back when the speed limit was 55 nationwide, I did an experiment. Driving in New Jersey during rush hour, I drove 55 in the far right lane, and counted the number of times I passed cars. (I-78 from the Pennsylvania state line to the junction with I-287.)

    Zero.

  • FQTVLR

    In Atlanta 55 in any lane is a pipe dream during rush hour….
    Even when I moved here over 20 years ago and has only gotten worse.

  • technomage1

    Where I live its a mixture of people speeding like crazy and those doing 10 mph underneath the speed limit. I just wish people would stay out of the left lane unless passing or turning. It makes it harder on everybody, to include the people in the right lane doing the speed limit, when they dont.

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