PEMCO Poll: Of drivers who hit parked cars, nearly half don’t always leave notes

Northwest insurer reminds drivers of best practices following an accident



​​​SEATTLE– If your parked car gets dinged by another motorist in Portland, and you’re not there to witness it, there’s just a 50/50 chance that the responsible driver will leave a note with contact information. That’s according to the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance, which shows that 53 percent of drivers in Portland who hit parked cars say they always leave contact information, while 47 percent admit to leaving the scene without leaving a note.

But to the north in Washington, drivers who hit parked cars are significantly more likely to come clean, with two-thirds – 67 percent – reporting that they always leave their contact information if they’re responsible for the damage, the poll revealed.

Beyond hitting parked cars, most drivers in both states say they’ve been involved in an accident with another driver at least once in their lifetime. According to the poll, men are involved in significantly more car accidents than women, regardless of who’s at fault. Men in Washington are also more likely to take the blame for a car accident – 62 percent of Washington men report fault for at least one car accident, while 51 percent of women admit to being a fault at least once. The poll also found that, in general, drivers claim to be at least partially at fault for car accidents about half the time.

“We don’t know what to make of the difference between answers from Portland and Washington drivers. Maybe that’s best left to psychologists,” said Jon Osterberg, PEMCO spokesperson. “But if you ever are in a car crash, we recommend all drivers follow several important steps to ensure the best outcome for those involved.”

  • Stop and determine if anyone is injured. If needed, call 911 for emergency help.
    In both Washington and Portland, any collision involving injuries must be reported to law enforcement. According to PEMCO’s poll, 56 percent of Washington drivers called 911 following their most recent accident, compared to 39 percent of Portland drivers who said they called 911. The poll shows that about half (52 percent) of Washington drivers said they filed a non-emergency accident report within a day of their last car accident while considerably more – 69 percent – of Portlanders said they did the same.
  • If safe to do so, move your vehicle to the side of the road.
    Do this after an accident to aid traffic flow and protect you from being harmed by oncoming vehicles.
  • Exchange contact and insurance information, but don’t discuss responsibility for the accident.
    Drivers should be sure to record the date and time of the accident, names and addresses of drivers and passengers, contact information for any witnesses, and the license numbers of the other vehicles involved in the accident. Photographing documents with a smart phone is better than scribbling with pen and paper and lets you send the information quickly and accurately to your insurer.
  • Take photos of the damage.
    According to the PEMCO poll, just one-quarter of all drivers said they took pictures to document the situation the last time they were in an accident involving another driver. Taking a picture was more common among younger drivers. Nearly half (49 percent) of those under 35 in Washington, and 52 percent of those under 35 in Portland, said they took pictures the last time they were in an accident, the poll showed. PEMCO reminds people that smartphones now make this an easy task.
  • Report the accident to the police from a safe location.
    Drivers in Portland must immediately notify law enforcement of the accident if damages total more than $1,500, according to Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles. In Washington, drivers must notify the Washington State Patrol if vehicle damage exceeds $700 – but, according to WSP, drivers have up to three days to file a report.

To learn more about the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll and to view a summary of the results, visit, where the public is invited to participate in an informal version of the poll and see how their own responses compare with those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in October 2012.

About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll
PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey that asked Washington and Oregon drivers several questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 609 respondents in Washington and 401 respondents in the Portland, Ore., metro area, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.1 percent and +/- 5.0 percent respectively 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, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, and umbrella insurance to Northwest residents. PEMCO Insurance is sold by community agents throughout the region and through PEMCO offices. For more information, visit