Traffic remains a top concern of Los Angeles County residents, according to a new USC Dornsife/California Community Foundation/Los Angeles Times poll.
Asked what concerned them most, more than half of those polled in the online survey — 55% — cited traffic and congestion. It was a worry cited more than any other, including physical safety, personal finances and making ends meet, along with crowded, substandard or unaffordable housing.
The poll of 1,500 adults, conducted online Sept. 10-24, aimed to get a picture of how residents viewed the county and their neighborhoods and of the degree and form of their civic engagement.
This survey is a departure from traditional phone polling used for the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll of California voters.
Traffic has long been a top concern for L.A. residents. A USC/Los Angeles Times poll in 2013 found traffic congestion jumped as the biggest negative effect on the quality of life, followed by the high cost of housing.
The Times has been asking poll respondents about traffic for decades. In 1989, The Times produced an extensive poll in which Southern California sounded off about traffic and their love/hate relationship with their cars. The poll offers an amusing timeline of the Southern California driver of that era:
—While most people would like to own a fancier car, the majority have not been swept up in the latest gadget craze.
—Only 4% of drivers have telephones in their cars, and while another 31% said they would like to have them, 64% indicated no interest in car phones. In Orange County, 5% had car phones, 26% said they wanted them.
—The fuzzy dice fad has a small following. Only 8% of drivers said they have some sort of ornament in their cars. It's even less in Orange County, where only 3% said they display such items.
—Bumper stickers are more in favor, with 18% putting them on the rear of their auto in Southern California (11% in Orange County). Eleven percent of drivers in the region say they customize their cars. Oversize tires and souped-up engines are the most popular modifications.
—Seventeen percent of the people polled have car alarms; 23% have had their cars broken into. In Orange County, 18% said they had their cars burglarized and 16% had an alarm.
—The vast majority of men and women polled (90%) said they pump their own fuel and most said they can perform routine auto maintenance chores. However, 6% said they couldn't pump their own gas and 29% said they didn't know how to change a tire.
—Asked what a carburetor does, 82% of the men and 36% of the women interviewed knew the answer.
—Although the biggest plurality, 36%, said they worry more about bad drivers than anything else on the road, 12% said they worry about their car breaking down. There may be good reason for that. Some drivers apparently aren't accustomed to using their legs much.
According to the poll, it has been a year or more since 20% of the drivers have walked as far as four city blocks.
More stats from that poll:
40%—Agree that automobiles have ruined Los Angeles
38%—Have made an obscene gesture to another driver
28%—Say their pet peeve is people who drive slowly in the fast lane.
13%—Had a car accident in the last year (65% said it was the other guy's fault)
5%—Have a gun in the car