Driving in the rain.Photo: woodleywonderworksCross-posted from Natural Resources Defense Council.

The majority of Americans consider themselves to be good drivers, according to a new survey from Allstate. But the rest of the survey reveals a different story.

American drivers believe their own driving knowledge, ability, and safe driving habits are substantially superior to those of, well, just about all other American drivers. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of American drivers rate themselves as “excellent” or “very good” drivers. American drivers’ positive self-rating is more than twice as high as the rating they give to their own close friends (29 percent “excellent” or “very good”) and also other people their age (22 percent). Drivers also don’t think much of the driving ability of people from surrounding states, senior citizens, parents with young children, and especially teenagers, according to the survey.  

Despite American drivers’ confidence in their abilities, many admit to practicing dangerous behaviors on the road:

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  • Eighty-nine percent say they’ve driven faster than the posted speed limit, and 40 percent say they’ve driven more than 20 miles per hour over the limit.
  • Almost half (45 percent) say they have driven while excessively tired — to the point of almost falling asleep.
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  • Fifteen percent say they have driven while intoxicated, with men almost four times more likely than women to have done so (23 percent of men versus six percent of women).
  • More than one-third (34 percent) have sent a text message or email while driving, but the prevalence of the practice changes by age group. Those 18-29 years of age are the most likely to text while driving (63 percent) with drivers ages 30-44 not far behind (58 percent). Texting while driving decreases with older age groups; only 25 percent of those 45-54, 6 percent of those 55-64, and 2 percent of those over 65 admit to the practice.
  • Fifty-three percent report having received a speeding ticket or other moving violation. Among these drivers, 44 percent say they have received three or more.
  • Fifty-six percent of American drivers say they have been involved in an accident, but only 28 percent of them say the accident was their own fault.