Delaware Drivers Are Above Average: Jersey drivers are the worst

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According to the most recent survey results from Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind, 61% of Delawareans rate their own driving skills “above average.” Just 1% say they're below average and 35% say they're “just average.” Men are more likely than women (69-54%) to claim they are above average drivers. And Republicans are more likely than Democrats (72-51%) to claim they are above average. Surprisingly, drivers under the age of 30 are more likely than older drivers to rate themselves as just average.

And who are the worst drivers to come down the pike? New Jersey takes the prize with 45% of Delawareans pointing at them as the worst among their three neighbors. Pennsylvania comes in a distant second with 27%. Maryland drivers hardly register with just 9% citing them as the worst. However, a handful of those surveyed (4%) cited Delawareans themselves as worse drivers than any of their neighbors.

Asked how often they worry that they or their loved ones might be in a life-threatening crash, 44% say they worry “often” or “every day” but a majority of 55% say they worry just “once in a while” or “almost never.”  Women report worrying more than men: 51% of women worry “every day” or “often,” compared to 35% of men.  And drivers with more education tend to worry less than those with less education.

Asked to guess how many people in the United States are killed each year in car crashes, only one in eight Delawareans (12%) could come within 10,000 of the correct answer of about 44,000.  A quarter of respondents (26%) made guesses under 25,000, while about a quarter (26%) made guesses over 65,000, and almost a third (32%) could make no guess.

“The results suggest that people are simply not aware of the extent to which automobile injuries and deaths are a public health problem,” said Peter J. Woolley, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and director of the poll.

Delawareans do support some change in driving policies. For example, 73% support making it more difficult for teenagers to get a driver's license, including two thirds of men and four of five women. Just 23% oppose the idea.  In addition, 66% support the idea of spending more money on driver education classes in high school while just 30% oppose that idea.

"Driver education is the foundation for safer roads," said Fraydun Manocherian, founder of the National Road Safety Foundation, a road safety advocacy group. "Proper education and more restrictive licensing for young drivers are key ingredients for reducing needless death and injury on our highways."

A majority of 57% say speed limits should be enforced more strictly, while 40% say they should not be. Differences by both age and gender emerge on this question. Women are more likely than men (63-49%) to say they should be more strictly enforced, and 71% of those aged 60 and over say they should be, but a majority under age 45 say they should not be.

“We're pleased to see that the public support is there for increased enforcement of our speed limits particularly since high-visibility enforcement is an important component of our Stop Aggressive Driving campaign, which is currently in progress,” said Tricia Roberts, director of the Office of Highway Safety.  “Speed is the leading factor contributing to traffic deaths in our state, and it is not surprising that many of the people who do not support increased speed enforcement fall into the age group most likely to speed.”

The PublicMind poll of 618 randomly selected registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from February 20 through February 25 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.



Contact: Peter Woolley 973.670.3239; Dan Cassino 973.896.7072

For more information, please call (973) 443-8661.

Copyright © 2007, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 070305]