Auto insurance

​ Block the box? Who, me?​

Wednesday, February 21, 2018by  Derek Wing

block the box 1.jpgNeither a blocker nor a bender be. OK, so maybe insurance companies shouldn't try to pirate words from Shakespeare. But in the case of intersection etiquette, it appears more than a few of us are doing things we really shouldn't.

In a recent PEMCO Poll, we asked drivers about "blocking the box" – rolling into an intersection only to get stuck there when the light turns red. Among responders, 83% said they witness the rude behavior at least occasionally. And 70% said they're pretty sure the drivers understood exactly what they were doing, purposely bending the rules about entering intersections when they knew there might not be room for them on the other side when the light changed.

But in our Poll, at least, only a handful of drivers admitted to ever knowingly doing it themselves. (About one-third said they've done it accidentally.)

In Washington, drivers who confessed to purposely blocking the box tended to be younger, with 17% under age 35 saying they do it occasionally versus only 7% of older drivers.

Intentional or not, obstructing cross traffic can earn drivers a ticket, with fines up to $250, in both Washington and Oregon.

About a year ago, we wrote about the related traffic faux pas of waiting mid-intersection to make a left turn in the Road Rules section of our monthly Perspective newsletter. Reader responses flooded my Inbox, with comments ranging from "Right on!" to "If I didn't creep out, I'd spark a road rage incident."

How does your intersection etiquette experience compare with fellow Northwesterners? Read the complete PEMCO Northwest Poll, in which Seattle's FBK Research surveyed 1,200 Washington and Oregon residents.


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