Americans Remain Positive About Driving, But Daily Commutes Waste Productive Time

The Hartford 2010 Drivability Survey confirms opinions of what makes cities ‘drivable’ and identifies areas of concern for drivers; A long commute might cause some people to turn down their dream job.

Story Highlights:

  • Only one in 10 would commute as long as necessary to accept an interesting new job.
  • Oprah Winfrey would be the most popular celebrity carpool companion.
  • More than 80 percent of drivers perform at least one other task while driving.

Statistics about the average American daily commute, from The Hartford 2010 Drivability Survey (Graphic: Business Wire)

HARTFORD, Conn.--()--Americans overwhelmingly believe their cities are “drivable,” yet the daily commute is a tough ride for many.

In The Hartford 2010 Drivability Survey conducted by GfK Roper, results compared with a 2009 study confirmed that American drivers have generally positive attitudes about driving and believe officials in their area are doing a good job maintaining the streets. Nearly all drivers think it is easy to get around by car where they live, and almost three-quarters agree that their fellow drivers are courteous. On the other hand, almost two-thirds of drivers say traffic is getting worse in their areas, and the majority of American drivers do not think the roads where they live were designed to handle the current volume of traffic.

“Driving is such an important part of our daily lives that it can affect our safety, our productivity at work, and even our general outlook on life. As an insurance company, understanding the driving experience helps us understand how to keep drivers – and their vehicles – moving and safe,” said Kathleen Bromage, vice president, The Hartford.

The daily commute is a major time-waster and source of frustration for many drivers. The survey reports that the average American commuter spends nearly 26 minutes commuting each way to and from work, including 14 minutes per day lost in traffic delays. This means that the average commuter loses 56 hours per year because of traffic – the equivalent of seven full working days. More than half of drivers say they try to plan their days around avoiding traffic.

Multi-Tasking Behind the Wheel

Despite the delays, American commuters seem to be adept at finding ways to make use of the time they spend stuck in traffic, with 86 percent of drivers admitting they perform at least one other activity – such as eating, drinking, talking on a cell phone or sending text messages – while driving to or from work. Eating or drinking (76 percent) and talking on a cell phone (67 percent) are the most common commuting pastimes, with more than 25 percent of commuters reporting they do three or more different things while driving. Commuters in cities studied with longer-than-average commutes – Phoenix and Charlotte – are most likely to report performing three or more different activities while driving.

Surprisingly, even in today’s tight job market, only one in 10 American commuters would be willing to commute as long as necessary to accept a new job they found very interesting. However, most drivers (77 percent) would at least consider a job offer that involves a commute of more than 30 minutes each way.

What could make the daily commute more pleasant? If given the chance, 39 percent of drivers would choose to be driven to work by a professional chauffeur, with fewer opting for alternatives such as a taxi driver, soccer mom or NASCAR driver. And Oprah Winfrey tops the list of famous people drivers might select for a carpool companion, with 23 percent of drivers selecting the television host over President Barack Obama, Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, Kathy Griffin and Beyonce.

Improving Road Conditions Makes Cities Move Drivable

Compared with results from 2009, The Hartford 2010 Drivability Survey confirmed driver attitudes about traffic, mobility and potential solutions to improve the “drivability” of their cities:

  • More than half of American drivers (57 percent) describe their city or area as “very drivable,” slightly higher than in 2009, and more than nine in 10 say it is at least “somewhat drivable.”
  • 86 percent of drivers agree that it is easy to get around their communities by car.
  • Two-thirds of drivers say traffic is getting worse in their area, the same percentage as last year, and 63 percent of drivers do not think the roads where they live were designed to handle the current volume of traffic.

To make their cities more drivable, almost half of survey respondents would favor improving the condition of existing roads, such as fixing potholes or repaving streets. Less popular options included adding more lanes to highways, timing traffic signals better, reducing traffic delays from construction, or improving signage, each selected by fewer than 20 percent of drivers.

In 2010, more people said they routinely encounter potholes while driving than they did last year. In fact, bad roads are even less popular than heavy traffic: Three-quarters of American drivers would prefer to sit in stop-and-go traffic on a well-paved road rather than having a road full of potholes all to themselves.

In 2009, The Hartford launched its “Pothole Patrol” initiative to create smoother commutes in key markets by filling costly and burdensome potholes that cause damage and disrupt the drives of local residents. The Pothole Patrol has visited 10 American cities to date.

For more information about The Hartford Drivability Survey and The Hartford’s Pothole Patrol initiative, aimed at improving road conditions in markets throughout the country, visit www.hartfordauto.com/potholepatrol.

About The Hartford

Celebrating 200 years, The Hartford (NYSE: HIG) is an insurance-based financial services company that serves households, businesses and employees by helping to protect their assets and income from risks, and by managing wealth and retirement needs. A Fortune 500 company, The Hartford is recognized widely for its service expertise and as one of the world’s most ethical companies. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at www.thehartford.com.

To learn more about The Hartford’s auto insurance products, consumers can visit http://hartfordauto.thehartford.com.

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Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include those discussed in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our 2009 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We assume no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6401579&lang=en

Contacts

The Hartford
Michelle Loxton, 860-547-7413
michelle.loxton@thehartford.com
or
for The Hartford
Annette Rogers, 214-379-3705
annette.rogers@mm2pr.com

Release Summary

The Hartford 2010 Drivability Survey was done to determine what drivers do and how they feel about their daily commute to work. Find out fascinating statistics about Americans daily commutes.

Contacts

The Hartford
Michelle Loxton, 860-547-7413
michelle.loxton@thehartford.com
or
for The Hartford
Annette Rogers, 214-379-3705
annette.rogers@mm2pr.com