The results suggest that drivers are pretty good at evaluating the poor skills and habits of others behind the wheel, but perhaps not so good at fessing up to their own faults.
"The discrepancies here point out an interesting and important truth – most drivers are over-confident, and the people who drive with them the most are probably very aware of their bad habits behind the wheel," said Celia Stokes, CEO of eDriving, an online drivers education and training company. "All of us who drive know that the drivers around us have more than their share of driving vices, but we may be blind to our own."
While two-thirds of respondents considered themselves "very good" drivers, only a third rated their spouse at such levels. Men were harder on their spouses than woman, doling out that praise only a quarter of the time while four in ten women said their spouses deserved those grades. Men were four times as likely to label their spouses as "bad" drivers.
Not only did the survey suggest married people don't think highly of their spouses' driving abilities, they found hints of marital discord elsewhere on road trips.
Not only did the survey suggest married people don't think highly of their spouses' driving abilities, they found hints of marital discord elsewhere on road trips. Thirty-four percent of married respondents said they argued with their spouse over speed, and 31 percent complained their spouse set the temperature either too hot or too cold. To be fair, 31 percent of married people said they didn't argue at all in the car, but that trailed the 41 percent of unmarried respondents who said they never argued with their vehicle occupants.
Of the 2,012 adults in the United States surveyed in July, only two percent were willing to admit they were "bad" drivers. The findings come from an online survey commissioned by eDriving and conducted by Harris Poll.
Discrepancies in how drivers view their own abilities behind the wheel may be harmless in some cases, but in others, misconceptions could have serious consequences. Officials from the Colorado Department of Transportation reported this week at the Governors Highway Safety Association annual conference that 28 percent of the state's recreational marijuana users say their driving performance actually improves when stoned.
Broken down by age, the eDriving survey showed senior citizens were more likely than any other age group to view their driving performance as either very or fairly good. Eighty-nine percent of drivers age 65 or higher graded themselves accordingly, but many people outlive their ability to drive safely, according to AARP research released earlier this year.
Respondents didn't go any easier on their children than they did on their spouses. Only 33 percent considered their children fairly good or very good drivers. But that may be a failure on the part of parents. Parents are, unofficially, their children's first driving instructors, and they can help develop and hone good habits long before kids take the wheel.
"They witness their parents' reactions to trouble and traffic, how careful they are to signal, whether they always think the rules apply to them and whether they speed, tailgate, text or tweet," said Hale Gammill, an eDriving instructor. "If they want their children to be better drivers, they must model better behavior ... and that starts with knowing what they're doing wrong."