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Northwest drivers blame others for blocking intersections -- but few admit to it themselves

Wednesday, February 21, 2018by  PEMCO Insurance

It's gridlock on your commute and cars are backed up on all sides of the intersection. You're waiting for your light to turn green and a car in the cross-traffic lane creeps out, hopeful of making it through – but it's clear they'll be blocking the intersection as soon as the signal changes. Sound familiar? According to many Northwest drivers, this blatant lane-obstructing behavior happens all the time.

The latest Northwest Poll from PEMCO Insurance asked Washington and Oregon residents about a common commuting gripe: cars that block intersections, whether accidently or on purpose, during high-volume traffic times. Though few drivers admit to committing the offense themselves, the PEMCO poll finds that a majority of drivers (83 percent) say they see other cars roll into an intersection, at least occasionally, and get stuck there after the light turns red.

According to the poll, nearly three-quarters (70 percent) go as far as to say they think intersection blockers do so on purpose, deliberately entering a congested intersection when it's obvious they won't make it to the other side before the light changes.

"No one appreciates a blocked intersection – not the drivers who sheepishly get stuck and definitely not the people who can't get through after waiting their turn. But it's become a common irritation for those of us who regularly commute on busy roadways," said PEMCO Spokesperson Derek Wing. "Sure, it can be tempting to try and get through an intersection when you see an opening – especially if other cars are honking to urge you on. But despite what your instincts might say, it's really best for everyone if you only proceed when you're sure you can make it all the way past the crosswalk."

But while many drivers are quick to blame others for causing congestion, few are willing to admit they do it themselves. The poll found that most drivers (88 percent) say they rarely or never enter an intersection when they know they might not make it to the other side before the light changes.

However, about a third of respondents (34 percent) do admit they accidently enter an intersection from time to time without realizing they might not make it.

Whether intentional or not, blocking an intersection could earn you a traffic ticket. In both Washington and Oregon, obstructing cross traffic is against the law and carries a fine of up to $250.

"If you don't make it all the way through an intersection, you may create a dangerous situation for both yourself and others on the road – including bicyclists, pedestrians, and any cars stuck in the chain reaction preventing them from getting through," Wing said. "And not only will you earn the scorn of your fellow drivers, you may end up with a traffic ticket for your actions. PEMCO urges all motorists to drive carefully, follow traffic signals, and do your part to keep our intersections clear."

For a complete summary of PEMCO's poll results, visit, where you'll find the responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in January 2018.


About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey, conducted by FBK Research of Seattle, that asked Washington and Oregon residents questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 600 respondents in Washington and 600 in Oregon, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.1 percent 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.


About PEMCO Insurance

PEMCO Insurance is a true Northwest company providing auto, home, and boat insurance to our neighbors since 1949. Consistently ranked highest in customer satisfaction, people are the heart of our business. They can depend on us to anticipate and support their changing needs. PEMCO is committed to serving organizations that positively impact our local communities. We were started by a Seattle schoolteacher and stay true to our roots by focusing on nonprofits and organizations that support youth, education, and public safety. To learn more, visit

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