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Northwest drivers claim they weren't tempted to speed more during the pandemic

July 13, 2021 by PEMCO Insurance

While many drivers enjoyed less congested and traffic-free roads during recent Stay at Home orders, a new poll from PEMCO Mutual Insurance reveals that a majority of Northwest drivers say they weren't tempted by the open roads. In fact, nearly two-thirds report that their speeding habits didn't change at all while driving during the pandemic, despite studies that show that speed contributed to an uptick in crashes locally and nationally.

According to the poll, a majority of Northwest drivers in the Seattle and Portland metro areas share a need for speed, with more than half of respondents (54%) admitting they sometimes or often speed – whether or not we're living in a COVID-19 era.

However, about two out of three drivers (65% in Seattle and 62% in Portland) claim their speeding habits didn't change in response to the open roads ushered in by the pandemic. In fact, less than 10% of Seattle drivers and even fewer in Portland (6%) admit to speeding more than pre-pandemic times.

"Throughout the pandemic, we heard multiple reports and anecdotes of drivers putting the pedal to the metal on traffic-free roads and highways. Although congestion has slowly crept back up since then, our latest poll has us wondering about a possible disconnect between what drivers admit to, and what actually plays out on the roads," said PEMCO spokesperson Derek Wing. "Regardless, our most recent poll data serves as a reminder that although it may seem harmless to drive slightly over the speed limit, risky behavior behind the wheel can have disastrous consequences for both you and other drivers on the road."

Perhaps speeding habits among Northwest drivers remained unchanged because they were already comfortable exceeding the speed limit— more than half (57%) believe there's a "buffer speed," meaning they won't get pulled over by law enforcement, even if they're clocked going above the speed limit.

In both metro areas, nine out of 10 drivers say they'll travel anywhere between one and nine miles over the speed limit before they think they're at risk of getting pulled over.

When asked why drivers put the pedal to the metal, nearly three-quarters of residents (71%) say it's because everyone else is speeding and they're simply matching the flow of traffic.

In both cities, men seem to have a greater need for speed. Not only are men more likely than their female counterparts to believe a "buffer speed" exists, about 20% of Seattle and Portland males say they don't let their foot off the gas until they're traveling at 10 or more miles per hour. In both cities, only about half their female counterparts (10%) say the same.

For a complete summary of PEMCO's proprietary poll results visit, where you'll find responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in February 2021.


About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Mutual 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, 400 respondents in the Seattle Metro (King, Snohomish, Pierce Counties) region and 400 respondents in the Portland Metro (Multnomah, Marion, Clackamas, Washington Counties) region yields an accuracy of +/- 5.0% respectively at the 95% 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 Mutual Insurance

PEMCO Mutual Insurance is the Defender of Your Northwest, providing auto, home, renters and boat coverage. We are consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee expertise and social impact. Our Mutual Good programs raise the achievement levels for youth in education; build stronger, greener environments; and increase safety at home, on the road and at play. Our mission: Free our communities to worry less and live more. 

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