PEMCO Poll: Northwest Residents Still Feel Pressured to Commute to Work in Wintery Conditions

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Following last year’s brutal February snowstorms that blanketed the Northwest, PEMCO Mutual Insurance is out with a new poll that shows many Northwest commuters still feel pressured to trek to the office in ice or snow, despite an increase in work from home (WFH) opportunities.

PEMCO first reported on Washington and Oregon residents’ winter driving habits in 2015, and despite a massive uptick in WFH capabilities since then, the recent PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll finds that a majority (62%) of Northwest employees still feel pressured to drive into work on days when there is snow or ice on the road, compared to the 66% of residents who reported the same five years ago.

Interestingly, a study conducted by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics also found that working remotely increased in the U.S. by 44% between 2012 and 2017.

“With more companies adopting flexible work schedules, it is surprising that many commuters still feel the need to brave unfavorable winter driving conditions,” said PEMCO spokesperson Derek Wing. “The Northwest has experienced staggering growth and change these past few years, but our neighbors’ perceptions that they’re expected at the workplace, and their tenacity to conquer whatever this region throws at them, is as strong as it was five years ago.”

Thankfully, Northwest drivers have retained their confidence for driving in less-than-ideal situations. In line with the 2015 release, the most recent poll finds about half of Washington and Oregon drivers think they are more skillful than other drivers (45% and 44%, respectively). Males tend to be most confident: 54% claim to be more skillful at snow and ice maneuvers than other people on the road. In comparison, fewer than one in three (30%) females say the same.

Comfort levels behind the wheel remain steady, as well: 64% of Washington drivers and 56% in Oregon claim to be comfortable on the road in wintery conditions. And only 15% of Northwesterners overall say they are very uncomfortable driving in winter weather.

But when it comes to how cities should make winter driving safer, Northwest residents have mixed feelings.

Regarding one of the most controversial road treatments – salt – about two-thirds of residents (67%) say they think it’s appropriate for cities to use at least some salt to make the roads safer, with 48% actually favoring its usage over other alternatives.

On the other hand, 31% of Washington and 40% of Oregon residents say salt is more harmful to the streets than alternatives, and in Portland, nearly one in five (24%) residents also cite damage to their cars as a reason they don’t support salting the roads, compared to only 17% of Seattleites.

“Whether Northwest commuters feel pressured by a boss, or are truly comfortable with driving in the snow, we strongly advise drivers to take precautions when venturing out,” added Wing. “Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to where you need to go and don’t rush. Most importantly, be prepared for whatever hazards you may face, and keep your vehicle stocked with blankets, water and a first-aid kit, just in case.”

For a complete summary of PEMCO’s proprietary poll results visit, where you’ll find responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in October 2019.

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


Derek Wing

PEMCO Mutual Insurance


Jordyn Bauerlein

Firmani + Associates Inc.


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