​Too Polite to Honk? Northwest Drivers Lay Off the Horn



Driving in the Northwest can challenge the patience of even the most level-headed driver, yet the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance finds that most people suffer in silence. The Seattle-based insurer found that about three out of four Northwest drivers refuse to honk their car horns at offending commuters, despite the fact that most believe honking is the right way to inform a distracted driver.

The PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll found that most drivers in Oregon and Washington (78 percent) say they rarely or never honk their car horns, and a majority (55 percent) agree that laying on their horn is an impolite no-no.

But despite their passive preferences, drivers here also believe that honking is an effective way to get fellow commuters to shape up – about three-quarters (74 percent) of those surveyed agree that honking is the right way to tell other drivers to pay attention.

"While Northwest drivers definitely face a lot of frustrations on the road – from gridlock to construction slow-downs to slippery streets – our roads seem noticeably quieter compared to other more vocal regions," said PEMCO Spokesperson Derek Wing. "Our poll revealed that drivers here agree: just under two-thirds believe we honk less than drivers in other parts of the U.S, perhaps confirming our overly polite Northwest driver stereotype."

The explanation for that perception may lie in the fact that Northwest drivers take honking personally. Almost half of drivers (44 percent) report that it startles them when other drivers honk, and a quarter of respondents say the gesture makes them feel bad. About a quarter also say honking makes them mad, but more admit to keeping their anger to themselves (18 percent) than letting the other driver know it (6 percent).

Interestingly, younger drivers are more aggressive when it comes to honking, but they feel worse than their older counterparts when they're on the receiving end of horn honks. According to the poll, those under 35 are twice as likely as their older counterparts to say they use their horn at least sometimes (25 percent vs. 11 percent), but they're also more likely to feel bad when honked at, compared to those over 35 (35 percent vs. 22 percent). 

"Regardless of how you feel about honking, we hope that drivers here continue to use their best judgment for alerting each other on the road and keep everyone's safety as their priority behind the wheel," Wing said.

For a complete summary of PEMCO's poll results, visit www.pemco.com/poll, where you'll find the responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in May 2017.




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 www.pemco.com.