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Aug-25-2014 23:40printcomments

Northwest Drivers Think Navigating is Less Distracting Than Talking or Texting

Poll supports gender-driven stereotypes when it comes to asking for directions

Seattle city street
Seattle city streets are a popular place to use a GPS!
Photo by Bonnie King

(SEATTLE) - Whether you're directionally challenged or a navigational pro, the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance reveals that most Northwest drivers find a GPS to be the lesser of two evils when it comes to technology distractions on the open road.

According to the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll, nearly half of drivers in Washington and Oregon (47 percent) think it's less distracting to use a GPS while driving, when compared to talking or texting on a cell phone while at the wheel.

While the same sentiment rings true for drivers east of the mountains, almost double the number of drivers in Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon think a GPS is actually more distracting than a cell phone, compared to their neighbors in the west.

Fourteen percent of drivers on the east side of either state say a GPS is a greater distraction, compared to 8 percent of Western Washington drivers and 6 percent of Western Oregon drivers who think the same.

"Beyond driving distractions, our latest poll asked men and women about their tendencies when asking for driving directions," said Jon Osterberg, PEMCO spokesperson. "We were amused to find that stereotypes are alive and well in the Northwest - men are truly more reluctant than women to ask for directions!"

According to the poll, a majority of all drivers in the Northwest - both men and women - rate their sense of direction well. About two out of three drivers (67 percent) say they're at least pretty good at finding their way around, and one-quarter (27 percent) rate themselves exceptional.

These results show that most Northwest men play right into their stubborn stereotype - about one-third (36 percent) consider themselves "exceptionally good" with directions, while just 20 percent of female drivers boast the same confidence.

However, those in Eastern Oregon buck that trend - just 14 percent assert exceptional confidence in their navigation skills, while nearly double (30 percent) in Western Oregon claim exceptional skill at finding their way around.

The poll goes on to find that 65 percent of Northwest men say they don't mind asking for directions, but ladies are still more willing to ask others for help - 77 percent of women in Washington and Oregon say they don't mind assistance with navigation.

Older drivers are also among those who don't hesitate to ask for directions. About three-quarters (78 percent) of those older than 55 say they don't mind the help, compared to two-thirds of those under 35 who are comfortable asking, as well.

Of those who do ask for directions, the poll shows that Northwest men prefer their directions to be described by street names. Northwest women, on the other hand, are more likely than men to favor receiving directions using landmarks, such as, "Turn right at the big apple tree."

About half (49 percent) of women prefer landmarks, while just one-third (36 percent) of Northwest men said the same.

When it comes to giving direction, women in Washington are more likely than men to prefer using landmarks over street names - 55 percent of women prefer citing landmarks, while 42 percent of men said the same.

In Oregon, though, men are just as likely as women to prefer using landmarks to give directions. Slightly fewer than half of each gender would rather say something along the lines of "if you cross the river, you've gone too far."

PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey that asked Washington and Oregon residents questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 600 respondents in Washington and 600 in Oregon, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.1 percent at the 95 percent 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.

To learn more about the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll and to view a summary of the results, visit, where the public is invited to participate in an informal version of the poll and see how their own responses compare with those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in May 2014.


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