SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Without commutes to work and school, and fewer reasons to leave the house, nearly two-thirds of Northwest drivers say that they’re driving less due to COVID-19. But according to the latest poll from PEMCO Mutual Insurance, that doesn’t mean residents here are prepared to embrace a car-free lifestyle just yet.
The PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll confirmed that 63% of drivers in the Seattle and Portland metro areas aren’t hitting the roads as often, but an even greater number of respondents (76%) say they’re happy with the number of vehicles they own, even if they’re sitting idle in the driveway thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
What’s more, this poll found that even more drivers – about 85% of respondents in the two cities – say they can’t even imagine life without four-wheels, at all.
That’s on par with sentiments shared by Northwest drivers in 2015 when the same number of residents (again, roughly 85%) reported they couldn’t let their vehicles go then, either. Back then, about one-third of those drivers predicted that it would be at least somewhat easy for them to make do with fewer vehicles in five years’ time. Today’s poll results show that wasn’t the case.
“It seems like residents who’d hoped to one day rely on their vehicles less are kicking the can down the road, so to speak. Five years ago, those who couldn’t imagine life without their vehicles thought it might be easier to make do with fewer cars in 2020,” said PEMCO Insurance Spokesperson, Derek Wing. “Today’s results show that kind of wishful thinking didn’t come to fruition – probably for many reasons. But the topic is still on Northwest residents’ minds as they continue to think about changes they might make in the future.”
Of course, respondents in 2015 couldn’t have predicted the global pandemic today’s drivers face. The 2020 poll found that 44% of residents in the Seattle and Portland metro areas say they won’t feel safe using public transportation – one of the most viable alternatives to vehicle ownership – until 2021, or possibly even never.
Drivers who are optimistic about depending less on their vehicles point to their employers’ more flexible work from home policies. About half of these respondents (50%) say their ability to work from home now will enable them to reach their goal of owning fewer vehicles.
More drivers are also pointing to environmental reasons for reducing their reliance on their vehicle. In 2015, only 9% of Seattle drivers said their top reason for giving up their car would be to lessen their impact on the environment. Today, 25% say the same. In Portland, 21% of metro area residents cited the environment as a reason to give up their vehicle in 2015. Now, that figure has increased to 37%.
Regardless of their intent, about half of PEMCO’s poll respondents (53%) said it would be a somewhat or very difficult transition if they had to give up one of their vehicles today. In fact, about one in 10 drivers even said that their households need more cars because of the current pandemic.
Women are especially keen to stay behind the wheel. In the Seattle metro area, 55% of female drivers said it would be somewhat or very difficult to give up a vehicle compared with only 48% of males. Similar opinions were shared in Portland where 59% of females said it would be hard to give up a vehicle compared to 47% of males.
For a complete summary of PEMCO’s proprietary poll results visit www.pemco.com/blog/nw-polls, where you’ll find responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in June 2020.
About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll
PEMCO Mutual 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, 578 respondents in Washington and 427 in Oregon, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.2 and 4.8% respectively at the 95% 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.
Supplemental interviews were conducted with people living in the Seattle metro area, including King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, and those in the Portland metro area, including Clackamas, Marion, Multnomah and Washington counties. The sample size, 578 respondents in the Seattle area and 509 in the Portland area, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.2% and +/- 4.4% respectively at the 95% confidence level.
About PEMCO Mutual Insurance
PEMCO Mutual Insurance is the Defender of Your Northwest, providing auto, home, renters and boat coverage. We are consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee expertise and social impact. Our Mutual Good programs raise the achievement levels for youth in education; build stronger, greener environments; and increase safety at home, on the road and at play. Our mission: Free our communities to worry less and live more. To learn more, visit www.pemco.com.