A recent PEMCO Insurance poll found that drivers in both Washington and Oregon believe a driver can exceed the speed limit and not get stopped by the state patrol, but Oregon drivers are considerably bolder when it comes to how far over the limit they think they can go without getting ticketed.
As many as two out of every three Northwest drivers think that they can go a few miles per hour over the posted speed limit -- even if witnessed by the patrol -- and get away with it. But drivers in Oregon are convinced that they can go as much as nine miles-per-hour over the legal limit and not get pulled over.
That’s significantly higher than Washington, where about half the drivers think there’s some lenience on freeway speed the state patrol will allow before they turn on the blue lights. The survey found that about 60 percent of Washington drivers think the threshold is four miles-per-hour, less than half what Oregon drivers believe is allowable.
“Oregon’s lower freeway speed limit, set at 65, may explain why Oregon drivers think there’s a higher tolerance for speeding,” said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg. "Regardless, data shows that speeding causes more crashes and fatalities."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly one-half of all fatal speeding-related crashes in 2009 occurred on roads with posted speed limits of 55 mph or more.
According to the Washington State Patrol, speeding is one of three areas where data shows motorists are most likely to be killed or injured when drivers violate posted speed limits. Other fatal behavior includes driving while impaired and failure to wear a seatbelt.
Despite the State Patrol’s emphasis on catching speeders, nine out of 10 Washington drivers admit they’ve exceeded the speed limit at least once, and half of all Washington drivers say they speed at least some of the time. The same holds true for Oregon drivers, according to the PEMCO poll.
Oregonians, however, are more likely to push speed limits, with 61 percent saying they should be quick to slow down before reaching 9 mph above the posted speed. That compares with 71 percent of Washington drivers who slow down before hitting 9 mph over the speed limit.
In either state, of those who admit to speeding, a majority say they’re simply keeping up with the flow of traffic, and a smaller fraction say they speed without realizing they’re exceeding the limit.
What’s also true for both states is the more you earn, the more likely you’ll speed. Nearly 60 percent of drivers with incomes of more than $50,000 per year admit to sometimes speeding.
Younger drivers also demonstrate less caution for slowing down. About two-thirds of drivers under age 35 admit to speeding at least some of the time, while less than half of drivers over age 35 say they sometimes speed.
"Although most of us speed at least once in a while, the major takeaway here is to remember that increased speed equals increased danger of physical harm, whether the police catch you or not," Osterberg said.
To learn more about the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll and to view a summary of the results, visit www.pemco.com/poll, where the public is invited to participate in an informal version of the poll to see how their own responses compare with those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in April 2011 and July 2011.
Source: PEMCO Insurance