Placid and passive? Extra safe? Readers describe Seattle’s driving culture

For this week’s column, we’re shaking things up and highlighting comments from people who say drivers in our region have their own style of getting around.

Compared with Los Angeles, Seattle drivers lack a sense of efficiency. Motorists here are so patient in contrast to the East Coast. No one gives eye contact, and pauses at four-way stops can last way too long out of politeness.

Those are just a few of the ways that locals, both transplants and native-born, say Seattle-area drivers differ from those elsewhere. Over several weeks, Traffic Lab has fielded emails and phone calls from motorists, cyclists and pedestrians who described a Pacific Northwest passivity seeping onto the roads.

“For the most part, I’ve found the Seattle drivers to be less aggressive than other city drivers,” said Jacqueline Thiebe, a bicycle commuter in Seattle.

“When someone honks at you in NYC, you don’t think twice about it, it’s like a form of communication. Not here,” is how Brandon Garcia, of Ballard, put it.

Traffic Lab is a Seattle Times project that digs into the region’s thorny transportation issues, spotlights promising approaches to easing gridlock, and helps readers find the best ways to get around. It is funded with the help of community sponsors Alaska Airlines, CenturyLink, Kemper Development Co., Sabey Corp., Seattle Children’s hospital and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Seattle Times editors and reporters operate independently of our funders and maintain editorial control over Traffic Lab content.

Learn more about Traffic Lab »

For this week’s column, we’re highlighting comments from people who say Seattle’s driving culture is distinct, after one Woodinville man who contacted Traffic Lab said motorists here are generally perceived by outsiders as inept.

“Drivers in Seattle, or Washington state as a whole, are generally viewed by residents of other states as poor drivers,” said Donn Terry, 68,…

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