Survey Exposes Attitudes of Charlotte-area Drivers

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Charlotte residents overwhelmingly believe their city is “drivable,” yet the daily commute is a tough ride for many.

The Hartford 2010 Drivability Survey conducted by GfK Roper revealed that Charlotte 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 80 percent agree that their fellow drivers are courteous. On the other hand, almost three-fourths of Charlotte drivers say traffic is getting worse in their areas, and the majority 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 Charlotte drivers. The survey reports that the average Charlotte commuter spends more than 29 minutes commuting each way to and from work, including 15.8 minutes per day lost in traffic delays. This means that the average commuter loses 63 hours per year because of traffic – the equivalent of eight full working days. Two-thirds of drivers say they try to plan their days around avoiding traffic.

Multi-Tasking Behind the Wheel

Despite the delays, Charlotte commuters seem to be adept at finding ways to make use of the time they spend stuck in traffic, with 97 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 (85 percent) and talking on a cell phone (79 percent) are the most common commuting pastimes, with 33 percent of commuters reporting they do three or more different things while driving.

Surprisingly, even in today’s tight job market, only 10 percent of Charlotte commuters would be willing to commute as long as necessary to accept a new job they found very interesting. However, most drivers (76 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, 44 percent of Charlotte drivers would choose to be driven to work by a professional chauffeur, with fewer opting for alternatives such as a taxi driver, soccer mom orNASCAR driver. And Oprah Winfrey tops the list of famous people drivers might select for a carpool companion, with 31 percent of drivers selecting the television host over President Barack Obama, Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, Kathy Griffin and Beyonce.

Improving Road Conditions Would Make Charlotte Move Drivable

In Charlotte, The Hartford 2010 Drivability Survey confirmed driver attitudes about traffic, mobility and potential solutions to improve the “drivability” of their city:

· Almost half of Charlotte drivers (46 percent) describe their city or area as “very drivable,” and more than nine in 10 say it is at least “somewhat drivable.”
· 87 percent of drivers agree that it is easy to get around their communities by car.
· 73 percent of drivers say traffic is getting worse in their area, and 74 percent of drivers do not think the roads where they live were designed to handle the current volume of traffic.

To make Charlotte more drivable, 38 percent 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 30 percent of drivers.

In Charlotte, 56 percent of people say they routinely encounter potholes while driving. In fact, bad roads are even less popular than heavy traffic: 80 percent of Charlotte 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, visitwww.hartfordauto.com/potholepatrol.>

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