Our Northwest

NW drivers mixed on mandated full-service gas

Wednesday, January 27, 2016by  Jon Osterberg

All Northwest residents know that Washingtonians love to pump their own gas, and Oregonians love to have attendants pump it for them, right?
     No. It’s far less clear than I suspected.
     The latest PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll reveals that while 69% of Oregon drivers favor full-service gas, if it came to a vote, 41% of them would change the law to allow self-service gas statewide.
     This is interesting in light of a new law that took effect Jan. 1 allowing low-population Oregon counties to offer self-service gas between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
     Most surprising to me, our poll also revealed that although 51% of Washington drivers oppose mandated full-service gas, 40% of them favor it. That’s a lot of people.
     It’s surprising simply because of my own bias and frustration. I’ve taken plenty of road trips between Seattle and California and Arizona, and each time I stop for gas in Oregon I forget that I must wait for an attendant to walk out to my car and pump the gas for me. Sometimes, like last July in Milton-Freewater, the wait for an attendant can be LONG.
     Our poll also turned up interesting findings about the type of gas – regular, mid-grade, or premium – that drivers put in their tanks, what motivates their choice, and the fact that many don’t know or aren’t sure if they’re using the right gas.
     That can be important, because some cars are engineered to use premium, and the lower octane found in regular can damage their engines.
     But most interesting was our discovery that 71% of drivers all over the Northwest say they’d drive up to 10 minutes out of their way to buy less-expensive gas. And 10% are willing to drive more than 10 minutes out of their way.
     Really? At what point does that become false economy? Some people are burning more gas to save a few cents than they’d conserve by buying locally.
     If you combine that 10% of drivers with the 13% who admit they don’t buy gas until their tanks are very close to empty, you get a chunk of wintertime motorists who risk being stranded with no fuel if they’re ever caught in a snowstorm.
     Read our news release, and see the results of our PEMCO Poll.

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