Thursday, May 31, 2007

I Think I Know Why D.C. Ranked Poorly on GMAC's Driving Survey

This CNN article references a national survey of drivers that GMAC recently conducted, the results of which conclude that about 10% of American drivers would fail a written driving exam. Sounds about right. Out of all the states surveyed, our fair District tied with Maryland and New York as the 5th worst average score on the list (click here to see the full list). Annoyingly, Virginia tied with Alabama and Nevada for 15th best average score. I say "annoyingly" because I fear drivers from the Old Dominion State, especially if they are behind the wheel of a minivan. Through much personal growth, I have come to realize that this is a difference in driving style. And by "style," I mean that I come from a state that thinks it's cool not to know driving rules.

Anyway, since I have a long-running fued with Hubby about who has right-of-way at a four-way stop intersection, I was inspired to look up right-of-way rules. For those of you dying to know, in Maryland and Virginia, right of way goes to whomever gets to the intersection first. Usually. Virginia also offers up this confusing caveat, taken directly from their driver's manual:

"When two vehicles approach an intersection not controlled by traffic lights or signs, neither vehicle has the right-of-way. Generally, Virginia law states that when two or more vehicles approach an uncontrolled intersection from different directions at the same time, the driver on the LEFT must yield to the driver on the right."

So no driver has right-of-way, but the driver of the left must yield? Doesn't that mean that the driver to the right has a little thing called right-of-way?

Hmmm, I thought, wonder what DC's right-of-way rule is? Does it agree with Maryland, or Virginia, sandwiched as it is between them?


Can you stand the suspense?

Yeah, I can't either. Know why? Because the DC Department of Motor Vehicles does not publish a handbook detailing all the rules of the road online. Go ahead. Go to I'll wait.

I'm sure you found the handy DC Driver's Examination Study Guide. It's a series of multiple-choice questions -- the answers are in the back -- which theoretically allows you to refresh your memory on test topics. I don't know if DC publishes a driver's manual at all, or if it simply declines to post one online. But don't most folks choose to get their goverment forms, booklets, and sundry other documents online these days? So I'd think if they had a manual, you'd be able to find it there. Which leads me to believe that maybe the don't actually have one.

That would explain the ranking, doncha think?

(Maryland still has no excuse, you goobers.)

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