The Relationship of Written Examination Performance to Safe Driving: A Literature Review with Recommended Methods for Developing Exams

Report No: 84-R41

Published in 1984

About the report:

This report reviews the literature concerning written driver license examinations. The research literature shows that current written examinations are poor predictors of unsafe drivers. Although some studies demonstrate significant relationships between one's written examination score and accidents, these relationships are significant only for drivers with certain combinations of sex, age, and level of education. Even for those classes of persons where a significant relationship was found, failing examinations is very over-incluslve. Thus, many safe drivers would have to be failed to screen out one unsafe driver. The conclusions, however, are based upon tests which are currently used and which have been widely criticized as not clearly testing knowledge or as not being statistically reliable. Another reason to administer written examinations is to mend information deficiencies. This can be particularly effective if drivers can be classified into groups with identified information deficiencies. This report also reviews classifications with identified information deficiencies, and it suggests how further research can be conducted with properly developed examinations.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Alden L. Atkins

Last updated: January 17, 2024

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