While just 8 percent of commuters currently car pool, 20 percent of solo drivers say they'd be interested in it -- far from a majority, but enough to take plenty of cars off the road if they were to follow through. For most, though, that looks unlikely: Just 6 percent are "very" interested in a car pool arrangement.
As with mass transit, convenience is the biggest objection: Asked the main reason they're not in carpools now, 51 percent say it'd be inconvenient, and an additional 22 percent give reasons related to convenience or privacy. Eighteen percent, though, say it's because they don't know anyone to carpool with.
There are roughly similar levels of interest in short-term car rentals -- membership services that rent cars by the hour. A quarter of Americans say they'd be interested in replacing their main car with this kind of service; 32 percent say they might use it to replace a second car. The numbers who are very interested, however, are again much lower -- 8 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
A word about numbers: While this analysis refers to averages (meaning the means) for results such as driving and commute times, they also can be computed as medians -- the midpoint of responses. Medians, while less inclusive of the full range of responses, mitigate the effect of the extremes.
It can make a difference. Americans say they spend an average of 87 minutes a day in their cars, but a median of 60 minutes. Commuters say their average commute takes 26 minutes; the median is 20 minutes. Their worst commute can take an average of 46 minutes, but a median of 30. The amount of time they estimate traffic adds to their commute averages 15 minutes, while the median is 10.
It is, finally, close to another national holiday -- President's Day, Feb. 21. Get ready for traffic: Fourteen percent of Americans say they'll be traveling by car on a special trip during the upcoming holiday weekend -- translating to nearly 30 million cars on the road.
This ABC News/Time magazine/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Jan. 26-31, 2005, among a random national sample of 1,204 adults, including 750 commuters. The results have a three-point error margin for the full sample, 3.5 points for commuters. Sampling, data collection and tabulation was done by TNS of Horsham, Pa.
You can find more ABC News polls at our Poll Vault.