Despite Los Angeles County’s legendary traffic jams, residents remain wedded to their cars and reluctant to use public transportation due to concerns over safety and convenience, a ccording to a poll publisged Wednesday.

Private vehicles are used at more than twice the rate of the second-most popular transportation mode, ride-hailing (e.g. Lyft and Uber). Respondents considered personal vehicles the safest, most convenient and enjoyable way to get around.

“This survey underscores how important the full customer service experience is, in transit and other modes,” said Marlon Boarnet, chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Spatial Analysis at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. “Safety and convenience are key factors that are limiting the alternatives to the car, but Los Angeles can become a city where everyone has viable alternatives to driving. The data in this study help highlight the challenges and opportunities, and help point the way forward.”

LABarometer respondents love their cars in part because they feel safer from crime. However, car users are more vulnerable to accidents: 15% of residents were involved in an accident/collision last year, most commonly while driving, according to LABarometer.

“It’s fascinating that people believe they are safer in cars than in public transit. That’s simply false. There are 40,000 deaths per year on the highways, but only a fraction of that number of deaths on mass transit. We all feel safe and comfortable with what we know — in this case, driving,” said Wendy Wood, Provost Professor of Psychology and Business at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Wood is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation.

The mobility survey, conducted from December 11, 2019, to February 7, 2020, asked 1,400 L.A. County residents a series of questions about their transportation behaviors, experiences, and attitudes to better understand how Angelenos travel around L.A. County and why they make the transportation decisions they do. During the initial phases of survey design, the survey team consulted with transportation agencies, mobility companies and nonprofit organizations to better understand key data gaps. No financial consideration was provided to the consulting entities.

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