If you’ve yelled that some drivers shouldn’t even be on the road, here’s some vindication for you.

20% of  US drivers couldn’t pass the written test if they had to take it today, according to the 4th annual  GMAC Insurance National Drivers test. After researchers polled more than 5,000 drivers in all fifty states, their data showed that as many as 38 million drivers in the USA don’t know what they need to to get the driver’s license they already have in their pockets.

ComedyGuys Defensive Driving - Driving in the USAThe poll consisted of 20 questions from each state’s DMV written test. The average score of all participants was 76.2%, down somewhat from 2009’s average score of 76.6%.

Compared on a state-by-state basis, Kansas drivers scored the highest, with an average score of 82.3%. New York came in the last with 70%.  Texas was part of the three-way tie for 18th place, with Michigan and Vermont.

If you’d like to see how you compare, take the 2010 driving test for yourself.

Other details from the report:

  • Older is better. Drivers 35 and over are most likely to pass the test.
  • Gender is something of an issue: 20% of female participants would fail the test, compared to 13% of the males.
  • Some test items are widely known. 98% of those polled knew the correct response to solid yellow lines,  hydroplaning, flashing lights on an approaching vehicle.

A second aspect of the poll questioned people about their multi-tasking while behind the wheel, with some frightening results.

Roughly 25% of the drivers in the poll admitted to driving while eating, talking on a cell phone, or adjusting their radios or iPods.

Only 5% of drivers admitted to texting while driving, but in a study where subject “self report” on behavior, some lying to make themselves look better is always possible. Even if the 5% number is accurate, that is still almost 10 million drivers on the road who are sending text messages.

“The really sad thing is that you see this more and more in young drivers,” added Wade Bontrager, senior vice president of GMAC Insurance. “They are not only the least experienced, but also need to pay the most attention to the road.”

CNNMoney.com has reported on this test and even added a very cool interactive map: click on the unwise behavior of your choice and see how the various states measure up against each other.

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