Northwest Drivers Avoid Excuses During Traffic Stops

April 19, 2013

Drivers in the Northwest are notorious for being overly polite – just observe any 4-way stop across the region to witness the “no, you go” tendencies shared by many. At the same time, the latest poll from Seattle-based PEMCO Insurance shows that Northwest drivers are no strangers to that sinking feeling of being pulled over by police, with most reporting they’ve been pulled over multiple times.

Almost two-thirds of drivers in Washington and the Portland metro area have been pulled over more than twice, while one-quarter have been stopped about four times. However, most are lucky enough to drive away without a citation, according to the PEMCO poll. Just one in 10 say they always get a ticket after being pulled over, and nearly half of drivers polled said they rarely or never receive a ticket.

Surprising to some, the poll shows that most drivers aren’t talking their way out of tickets. The data reveal that 51 percent of Washington drivers and 43 percent in Portland say they rarely, if ever, provide an excuse with the hope of getting off the hook.

Of the drivers who do attempt to explain their way out of a ticket, many claim ignorance: about 40 percent say they didn’t know they had broken the law.

“We’ve speculated whether drivers who simply claim ignorance might be more likely to get ticketed,” said Jon Osterberg, PEMCO spokesperson. “The poll data didn’t prove that, and it’s kind of refreshing to learn that so many drivers are authentic and candid with traffic police.”

The poll does support the notion that less-responsible drivers get pulled over more often. Those who say they often or sometimes feel distracted while driving also are more likely to be among those who have been pulled over more than four times.

Similarly, those who have been in two or more auto accidents have been pulled over an average of 4.5 times. In stark contrast, drivers with no accident history are most likely to report they’ve never been stopped by police.

Concerning age and gender, the poll shows that men get pulled over more frequently than women, and in Washington men also are more likely to get a ticket. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to say they never get a ticket when pulled over.

Drivers 55 and older in Washington and Portland are the least likely to try and explain their way out of a ticket, according to the PEMCO poll.

The Washington State Patrol and other law enforcement groups remind motorists that the primary reason for pulling drivers over is to ensure safety and to educate drivers on safe driving habits by enforcing traffic laws.

To view a summary of the results, visit

About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey that asked Washington and Oregon drivers several questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 609 respondents in Washington and 401 respondents in the Portland, Ore., metro area, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.1 percent and +/- 5.0 percent respectively 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.

Source: PEMCO Insurance

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