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Despite growing traffic troubles, Northwest commuters prefer being behind the wheel

Wednesday, September 19, 2018by  PEMCO Insurance

​Commuting can be one of the most vexing parts of the workday, especially when you're caught in slow-moving traffic. But despite the challenges that can come with getting to your destination, and the increasing amount of time Northwest drivers are spending on their daily commutes, the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance finds that a majority of residents prefer to drive themselves to work each day.

The Northwest Poll found that one in three Washington and Oregon drivers (32 percent) say they have longer commutes now than in years past, with the average driver spending nearly an hour getting to and from work every day. But despite a shared frustration for traffic delays, a whopping 94 percent of commuters say they prefer to drive themselves to work, rather than opt for another mode of transportation.

According to the poll, convenience is king. Three-quarters of people (74 percent) say they prefer to drive because it's the most convenient option, and half (49 percent) think driving is the fastest or most efficient way to travel.

"The growth and development we've seen here in the Northwest has certainly had its benefits, but many of us are paying for it with longer commute times," said PEMCO Spokesperson Derek Wing. "We all know how frustrating it can be to get caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic, so it was surprising to see that so many people think driving themselves is still the fastest or most convenient way to get to their destination."

The increased commute time – and the frustrations that come with it – have convinced some drivers to change their routines. Many people (57 percent) say they now use backroads or side streets to deal with congested roadways. And about one-third (34 percent) say they've shifted their schedules to avoid peak traffic times.

But when faced with the choice to change modes of transportation, about half of respondents (52 percent) said no thanks. About one in five (18 percent) said they would be willing to take public transportation like the bus or light rail if it were convenient, and only about 14 percent said they would walk more.

And of those who use other use alternatives to driving for their commute, a majority (68 percent) say they'd prefer to make a change.  

"Although we have more choices than ever when it comes to how we get to work, it appears most commuters still prefer the convenience and sense of control that comes with driving themselves," Wing said. "But as someone who prefers to vanpool to work, I enjoy all the advantages of driving, without actually having to be behind the wheel. Plus, I get to ride with some friendly passengers, too!"

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