MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — According to a 2011 survey from Allstate Insurance, 64 percent of people think they are “excellent” or “very good” drivers.

But when asked to rate their friends, that percentage falls to 29 percent. It’s even lower, 22 percent, when it comes to rating peer groups.

Ann Flood, co-owner of A+ Driving School, says her company teaches more than 2,000 people, mostly teenagers, how to drive every year.

“I don’t necessarily disagree with that attitude because I think that a huge aspect of driving is being defensive and assuming the other person isn’t going to do the right thing,” Flood said.

She says being a good driver isn’t just following the laws, but is about the decisions you make before you get in the car.

“It’s not being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s not being too tired,” she said. “It’s making a conscious decision not to be a distracted driver.”

Lt. Eric Roeske with the Minnesota State Patrol says the top four reasons for multiple vehicle/serious car crashes are distracted drivers, not yielding the right of way, following too closely and going too fast.

“The biggest problems we see have to do with patience,” Roeske said. “People go too fast for the winter or follow too closely in traffic and then something unexpected happens and they can’t deal with it.”

Flood says it’s important to know that what you do behind the wheel matters

“The biggest thing is just knowing that you’re not above an accident,” Flood said.

When it comes to driving patterns across the country, Minnesotans do well. A new study from carinsurancecomparison.com says Minnesota ranks fourth in the nation when it comes to safe driving. Only New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont are rank above.

The study – which was used statistics from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the National Motorists Association – looked at fatality rate, careless driving, drunk driving, tickets and seatbelt use.

Though Minnesotans rank 26th in tickets and 19th in drunk driving, the state has the second-lowest fatalities rate per vehicle miles traveled.

Roeske says 400 fatalities a year is still too many.

Flood suggests people slow down, stay off the phone and have some patience; perhaps just let that tailgater go by.

“Being the one who gives the peace sign instead of the other finger,” Flood said.

Heather Brown