Aggressive driving on the rise in the Northwest, study suggests

Jan 21, 2019, 10:16 AM | Updated: 10:37 am

There is now more risky and aggressive driving on Northwest roads than just a few years ago, at least, more incidents that drivers are willing to admit to.

“I think there are a lot of reasons why … We’re talking about more construction projects out there, which means more traffic, potentially longer commutes,” Derek Wing with PEMCO told KIRO Nights. ” There are more people moving to the Northwest every week, every month, every year. So with more people comes more cars, and that probably brings higher stress.”

“…I think that might lead to some aggression,” he said

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That might explain aggressive driving around cities like Seattle, which are taking on a bulk of newcomers. But Wing says neighboring areas will also feel the strain. A solution to the problem could prompt Washington drivers to be a little nicer. For example, maybe drivers will finally start to properly zipper merge.

“Traffic is kind of like a team sport,” Wing said. “In order for all of us to win and get out safely, we all need to help each other out. That means driving a little bit slower, driving a little bit safer, and being courteous. If someone wants to get in, it’s not the end of the world if you let them in. Or if somebody cuts you off, it’s not a big deal.”

Aggressive driving poll

PEMCO Insurance conducted a poll of Northwest drivers asking about risky behaviors, aggressiveness, and other rude road happenings. This includes speeding, tailgating, or just driving like you’re the only one on the road who matters. A similar poll was conducted four years ago. PEMCO compared the two results.

…drivers said they’re about twice as likely now to “assert themselves” behind the wheel. They also believe other drivers give in to rude impulses more often than they do, saying they see about five times more aggressive acts (around 10 per month) than they commit themselves.

The poll adds up to Northwest drivers engaging in risky behavior 2.1 times each month, on average. That’s up from the previous poll’s results of 1.3 aggressive acts each month. Though, despite drivers admitting to their own aggressive driving, they claim that everyone else out there is worse. Drivers generally report seeing five times more bad behavior than they personally contribute.

“Maybe some people don’t always see in themselves what other people see in them,” Wing said. “That might be why a lot of people in our poll said, ‘I admit to being a little more aggressive than I used to be, but that guy or girl over there is way more aggressive. It’s always easier to spot someone else doing the wrong thing than to look inward and see that maybe you are not doing the right thing either.”

Millennials may be a part of why the numbers have gone up. That group is showing more and more incidents of rude driving behavior — 3.3 bad driving moves each month. According to PEMCO:

The poll found that millennials, in particular, are becoming notably more aggressive on the road, compared to their older counterparts. Drivers under 35 admit to an average of 3.3 risky maneuvers per month, compared to 2.0 aggressive acts four years ago, while aggression from drivers over 35 has remained the same at about once per month.

It might sound somewhat dire on the road, but it’s not all bad news out there. After all, it is the Northwest.

Drivers across the Northwest also say they exhibit considerate behaviors like yielding, signaling in advance or giving a courtesy wave an average of 8.4 times per month. The poll found that drivers witness 6.7 polite behaviors from others each month, as well.

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