Most experienced U.S. drivers don't measure up

The first time I went to Germany I was in awe.

Not at the beauty of the country or a 900-year-old cathedral.

But rather at the Germans' driving skills.

I couldn't get over how rush hour moved so swiftly and efficiently. I noticed no road rage, no accidents and no jams. Drivers on the famed Autobahn had proper etiquette. They moved aside for faster vehicles and obeyed the posted speed limits where they existed.

A German man explained to me that it's very difficult to get a driver's license in Germany. In fact, most drivers fail both the driving and written tests at least three times. He added that almost no one spoke on a mobile phone while driving in Germany and there were few accidents even on the high-speed Autobahn.

I thought fondly of Germany today as I read a report by LeaseTrader.com.

The report shows that most experienced U.S. drivers would fail a written driving test if re-tested now.

For the study, 500 men and women each with at least five years of driving experience answered the same ten sample questions found on U.S. written driving exams. Those with the most driving experience, more than 20 years, scored nearly 18 percent lower than younger drivers.

Men had the most difficult time answering a question addressing the procedure for approaching a stopped school bus on the other side of a divided highway. Most men answered watch for children and be ready to stop. The correct answer, LeaseTrader says, is to stop and wait until the flashing red lights are off, though some cities don't require opposing traffic to stop for a school bus on a divided highway.

Women struggled with a question addressing the appropriate speed limit on primary and secondary state and federal highways. Most said the speed limit is 65 mph. It is actually 55 mph.

"It may be time to take a closer look at the way in which we test drivers," said Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing for Edmunds.com. "The United States has a far less rigorous training and testing process than many developed countries -- and a much higher per capita rate of fatal accidents."

Indeed, U.S. officials should reconsider driver training.

Let's say "guten tag" to some higher standards.

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