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Northwest drivers surprisingly tolerant of backseat drivers

Wednesday, August 8, 2018by  PEMCO Insurance

​Nearly everyone can agree that backseat drivers are as frustrating as bumper-to-bumper traffic or an unexpected flat tire. While unwanted advice can challenge even the most level-headed traveler, the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance finds that drivers in the Northwest put up with more from their passengers than you might expect.

The PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll found that 94 percent of Washington and Oregon drivers agree that passengers can be irritating – whether they're chatting on the phone or offering unwanted tips or driving directions. 

But surprisingly, about three-quarters of drivers (76 percent) say it's okay for passengers to offer directions for determining the best route to their destination. And passengers say they aren't afraid to speak up, either – about two-thirds (63 percent) say they provide directions at least sometimes.

Fewer drivers (45 percent) welcome tips about their driving techniques, and a majority of passengers seem to agree that those critiques cross the line – 68 percent say they rarely or never offer that kind of feedback. And although more than half of drivers (59 percent) would allow someone to change the music or temperature without asking, only 36 percent of passengers say they sometimes reach out to adjust the dial. 

"We all have that friend or family member who feels the need to chime in when they're riding as a passenger, whether it's criticism or well-intended advice," said PEMCO Spokesperson Derek Wing. "But despite the general disdain for backseat drivers, it surprised us to see that so many drivers claim to be okay with hearing from their passengers."

The PEMCO poll also found that passengers share gripes about drivers, as well, especially when it comes to safety. Out of a handful of concerning behaviors, most passengers (83 percent) are extremely or very bothered by drivers who use their phones behind the wheel. Additionally, nearly three out of four respondents (71 percent) say driving too fast or erratically bothers them the most.

"Everyone plays a part in being safe on the road, even if that means speaking up to discourage distracted driving or other dangerous decisions that might put passengers or fellow motorists at risk. We're glad to see that passengers feel empowered to help drivers stay focused to keep everyone out of harm's way," Wing said.


For a complete summary of PEMCO's poll results, visit, where you'll find the responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in January 2018.


About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey, conducted by FBK Research of Seattle, that asked Washington and Oregon residents questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 600 respondents in Washington and 600 in Oregon, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. In other words, if this study were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than the associated error range.

About PEMCO Insurance

PEMCO Insurance is a true Northwest company providing auto, home, and boat insurance to our neighbors since 1949. Consistently ranked highest in customer satisfaction, people are the heart of our business. They can depend on us to anticipate and support their changing needs. PEMCO is committed to serving organizations that positively impact our local communities. We were started by a Seattle schoolteacher and stay true to our roots by focusing on nonprofits and organizations that support youth, education, and public safety. To learn more, visit

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