Polite Driver Index


According to the 2019 PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll, drivers in our area are becoming increasingly aggressive on the road, but most believe that their fellow motorists engage in even more rude or dangerous driving behaviors than they do.

How about you? Are you seeing or doing more aggressive driving than before? If so, why?

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of drivers in Washington and Oregon reported that they, personally, engaged in fewer than three aggressive driving behaviors within the past month. These same drivers said that they witnessed many more aggressive behaviors from other drivers on the road. About one-half in both regions (60% in Washington and 55% in Oregon) said that they have witnessed aggressive behaviors from other drivers at least five times in the past month.

November 2018

Witness
Washington Oregon Frequency of agression
4 4 None
14 14 1-2 times
20 24 3-4 times
19 21 5-9 times
41 34 10+ times
10.3 9.1 Average # times / past month

Washington: Frequency of Exhibiting Aggressive Behaviors (speeding, tailgating, erratic maneuvers, etc.)

Compared to results from three years ago, Washington drivers report engaging in more aggressive acts. The average number of aggressive acts reported in 2015 was 1.3, and that average is now at 2.2. Compared to three years ago, Washington drivers also reported witnessing more aggressive acts from other drivers. The average number of aggressive acts witnessed from others increased from 8.8 in 2015 to 10.3 in 2018.

Washington

Witness
Aug
10
April
12
Nov
13
Nov
15
June
18
Frequency of agression
3 4 4 4 4 None
8 15 17 17 14 1-2 times
17 23 23 24 20 3-4 times
20 17 20 18 19 5-9 times
51 37 36 35 41 10+ times
12.1 9.8 9.3 8.8 10.3 Average # times / past month

In Washington, drivers under 35 years of age are becoming increasingly more aggressive over time. In 2018, these younger drivers reported engaging in an average of 3.4 aggressive driving acts per month compared with 2.0 aggressive acts reported in 2015. The average number of monthly aggressive acts reported by those 35 years of age or older in 2018 was 1.6, which is statistically the same as has been reported in the past.

Washington 2018
Personally Engage in Aggressive Acts

November 2013 June 2018
< 35 years 35+ years < 35 years 35+ years Frequency of agression
37 67 34 54 None
36 24 32 31 1-2 times
19 4 13 7 3-4 times
3 2 6 3 5-9 times
5 3 13 4 10+ times
2.6 1.2 3.4 1.6 Average # times / past month

When it comes to witnessing aggressive acts from others on the road, those under 55 years of age report seeing more aggressiveness from others. In 2018, those under 55 years of age reported witnessing an average of 10.7 aggressive acts compared to 8.9 for those in the older age category.

Comparing perceptions among these age groups between November 2015 and June 2018, drivers believe they are witnessing more aggressive acts over time. Those under 55 witnessed an average of 9.7 aggressive acts in 2015 and 10.7 aggressive acts in 2018, which is statistically the same. Those 55 years of age or older witnessed 7.0 aggressive acts in 2015 and 8.9 acts in 2018, which represents a meaningful increase over time.

Washington 2018
Witness Others Engaging in Aggressive Behaviors

November 2013 June 2018
< 55 years 55+ years < 55 years 55+ years Frequency of agression
4 6 5 4 None
13 26 14 12 1-2 times
22 26 17 29 3-4 times
20 19 19 18 5-9 times
41 23 43 34 10+ times
10.4 6.7 10.7 8.9 Average # times / past month

Oregon: Frequency of Exhibiting Aggressive Behaviors (speeding, tailgating, erratic maneuvers, etc.)

In June 2018 and in November 2015 all licensed drivers in the state of Oregon were included in this research. This is a departure from prior years in which only those living in the Portland Metro area were included. This report compares the 2018 data to the November 2015 Oregon statewide data.

Compared to November 2015, Oregon drivers report engaging in about the same number of aggressive driving behaviors. In 2018 the average number of aggressive behaviors Oregon drivers reported is 1.9, compared with 1.2 reported in 2015. Over time, Oregon drivers report witnessing about the same number of aggressive driving behaviors also. The number of aggressive behaviors they witnessed from other drivers stayed about the same, going from 8.7 in 2015 to 9.1 in 2018.

June 2018

Witness Aggressive Acts
Nov 2015 June 2018 Frequency of agression
5 4 None
19 14 1-2 times
20 24 3-4 times
20 21 5-9 times
33 35 10+ times
8.7 9.1 Average # times / past month

In Oregon, drivers under 35 years of age are becoming increasingly more aggressive with time. In 2018, these younger drivers reported an average of 3.2 aggressive acts compared with 1.9 aggressive acts reported in 2015. The average number of monthly aggressive acts reported by those 35 years of age or older in 2018 was 1.3, up from 0.9 in 2015.

Oregon 2018
Personally Engage in Aggressive Acts

June 2018
< 35 years 35+ years Frequency of agression
31 55 None
34 28 1-2 times
15 7 3-4 times
10 5 5-9 times
9 2 10+ times
3.2 1.3 Average # times / past month

In 2018, there are no differences in the average number of aggressive actions witnessed, regardless of age, among Oregon drivers. This differs from 2015 when those under 55 years of age were more likely than their older counterparts to witness aggressive acts (9.6 versus 7.2 respectively).

Oregon 2018
Witness Others Engaging Engage in Aggressive Acts

June 2018
< 55 years 55+ years Frequency of agression
3 7 None
14 16 1-2 times
24 23 3-4 times
21 21 5-9 times
34 31 10+ times
9.7 8.5 Average # times / past month

Polite Driving Behaviors: 2018 Regional Comparison

The data from the June 2018 poll shows that Washington and Oregon drivers are similar when reporting how polite they are when driving, and in their perceptions of how polite other drivers are on the road. Washington drivers said they engaged in an average of 8.6 polite behaviors in the past month and Oregon drivers reported an average of 8.2 polite behaviors. In both regions, the perception is that other drivers on the road are less polite. Both Washington and Oregon drivers reported witnessing an average of 6.7 behaviors in the past month.

June 2018

Witness
Washington Oregon Frequency of politeness
5 5 None
21 21 1-2 times
27 27 3-4 times
20 20 5-9 times
24 24 10+ times
6.7 6.7 Average # times / past month

Washington: Frequency of Exhibiting Polite Behaviors (yielding, signaling in advance, courtesy wave, etc.)

Compared to data collected in August 2010, Washington drivers report engaging in fewer polite acts, and they witness the same number of polite acts from other drivers. In August 2010, Washington drivers reported engaging in an average of 10.5 polite behaviors and in June 2018 Washington drivers reported engaging in an average of 8.6 polite behaviors. In August 2010, drivers witnessed an average of 6.7 polite acts from other drivers, and in June 2018 the average number of polite behaviors witnessed was also 6.7.

Washington

Witness
Aug
10
April
12
Nov
13
Nov
15
June
18
Frequency of politeness
3 5 5 5 5 None
21 24 24 24 21 1-2 times
26 27 30 28 27 3-4 times
25 19 20 19 20 5-9 times
25 20 21 20 24 10+ times
6.7 6.2 6.2 6.2 6.7 Average # times / past month

Oregon: Frequency of Exhibiting Polite Behaviors (yielding, signaling in advance, courtesy wave, etc.)

Compared with November 2015, neither the number of polite acts Oregon drivers engaged in nor the number of polite acts witnessed changed. The number of polite acts engaged in was 8.9 in November 2015 and 8.2 in 2018. The number of polite acts witnessed was 7.2 in 2015 and 6.7 in 2018.

June 2018

Witness Polite Acts
Nov 2015 June 2018 Frequency of politeness
3 5 None
21 21 1-2 times
25 27 3-4 times
20 20 5-9 times
26 24 10+ times
7.2 6.7 Average # times / past month

Polite Driving Index

The Polite Driving Index is derived from two measurements: the total acts of politeness and the total acts of aggression:

Polite Driving Index = Total Politeness – Total Aggression

Since the Polite Driving Index benchmark was set in June 2009, Washington state drivers remain relatively more polite than they are aggressive. The index increased between 2009 and 2015, indicating drivers were becoming increasingly polite. That trend reversed in 2018, when Washington drivers report that, although drivers are still more polite than aggressive, they’re not as polite as they were five years ago.

The most dramatic difference is among males, where the polite driving index has decreased from 139 in 2015 to 121 today. Females, too, have seen a decline in their index. Among females, the index dropped from 144 to 136.

Washington 2015

June
2009
April
2012
Nov
2013
June
2018
133 139 144 128 Overall Index
131 132 135 121 Males
146 143 151 136 Females

Oregon drivers show similarities to those in Washington. Overall, they consider drivers to be more polite than aggressive, but the degree of politeness has diminished over the past three years (from an index of 161 in 2015 to 139 in 2018).

Oregon

June 2018
139 Overall Index
143 Males
137 Females
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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, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, and umbrella insurance to Northwest residents. PEMCO Insurance is sold to consumers by the method they choose – phone, local community agents, or online. For more information, visit pemco.com.