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Northwest drivers are confident in their roundabout skills, but believe others struggle

Wednesday, February 20, 2019by  PEMCO Insurance

​Roundabout intersections may seem like a foreign concept to some drivers, but a new poll from PEMCO Insurance finds that most residents here boast their ability to navigate them correctly. But while most have faith in their own traffic circle skills, the PEMCO poll shows that many believe other drivers aren't as adept at maneuvering through roundabouts.​

The latest Northwest Poll from PEMCO Insurance found four out of five of drivers who ever encounter roundabouts say they're extremely or very confident in their approach to them. In fact, 76 percent of respondents claim they rarely or never go through them incorrectly.

However, most drivers (64 percent) say they commonly see others making a wrong move when going through a roundabout – either by failing to properly yield, taking a shortcut or going through them the wrong way. And according to the poll, nearly one-third of respondents (31 percent) believe other drivers lack confidence in their own ability to correctly drive through this type of intersection. 

"Intersections of all kinds can be tricky, especially here in the Northwest where some drivers have a reputation for being too polite when yielding the right-of-way. And for drivers who aren't completely accustomed to them, roundabouts can be downright dizzying," said PEMCO Spokesperson Derek Wing. "Interestingly, despite the high-level confidence, our data also indicate that drivers may not be as skilled as they think at navigating roundabouts."

Roundabouts have been spreading across the country as state and local municipalities have considered the benefits of their design. And while several factors come in to play when comparing the merits of various types of intersections, some data suggest roundabouts may be a safer option. In fact, the Oregon Department of Transportation reports that roundabouts have led to a 90 percent reduction in fatalities compared to traditional intersections.

But according to the PEMCO poll, not all drivers are convinced roundabouts are the right way to go. While more than half of Northwest drivers (58 percent) do say they favor ditching traditional intersections for roundabouts, one-third of respondents are still opposed to the idea.

Whether drivers support roundabouts or not, the Washington State Department of Transportation offers advice to help everyone on the road navigate through the intersections safely and efficiently:

  • Yield to drivers in the roundabout
  • Stay in your lane; do not change lanes
  • Do not stop in the roundabout
  • Avoid driving next to oversize vehicles

"At PEMCO, we're all for promoting safety and efficiency out on the roads, whether it's through new intersection designs or by helping drivers know how to properly drive through them," Wing said. "We encourage anyone who isn't quite sure how to navigate a roundabout to learn more about them before they're caught driving in circles."

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

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