Northwest drivers avoid excuses, and tickets, during traffic stops

speeding ticket

SEATTLE--April 18, 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 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.

For drivers who do encounter flashing lights and sirens, the WSP provides best practices for handling a traffic stop on its website at

To learn more about the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll and to view a summary of the results, visit Pemco Poll , where the public is invited to participate in an informal version of the poll and see how their own responses compare with those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in October 2012.

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