Jaywalkers deserve consequences, PEMCO Poll reveals

Younger drivers call for lenience against violators despite danger of auto-pedestrian accidents



​​SEATTLE – The news that more than 622 pedestrians were killed in traffic-related accidents in Washington since 2000 does not appear to deter nearly one-third of Washington drivers who, according to PEMCO Insurance’s latest poll, admit to jaywalking.

PEMCO’s data shows that 31 percent of all Washington drivers polled admit to crossing the street outside of a crosswalk or walking before the signal indicates it’s legal to proceed, despite national data that shows 20 percent of recent pedestrian fatalities are due to improper crossing at intersections.

Though some respondents’ jaywalking behavior would suggest otherwise, 70 percent of drivers polled agree that pedestrians who jaywalk should be ticketed for failing to follow the laws that govern crosswalks and intersections.

“We’re pleased to learn that a significant majority of respondents say they want laws consistently enforced to keep pedestrians crossing only within crosswalks, and when traffic signals allow,” said PEMCO Insurance spokesperson Jon Osterberg. “PEMCO wants to keep roads safe for drivers and pedestrians, so it’s encouraging that our poll shows people support jaywalking laws.”

The poll reveals that while 33 percent of respondents think the laws favor pedestrians over drivers, 81 percent of those polled support the consequences for drivers who fail to yield for pedestrians legally crossing the street.

According to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), vehicles must stop for pedestrians crossing roadways within both marked and unmarked crosswalks.  When turning through a crosswalk, vehicles must also yield to pedestrians until they are a safe distance away. Drivers who fail to yield under those circumstances can be cited with a traffic ticket and fine, according to the law.

While a significant majority of respondents think that all violators – whether driving or walking – deserve to be ticketed for intersection offenses, those under age 35 are significantly less likely to think that drivers or pedestrians should be ticketed for an intersection offense.

“We found that younger drivers are more tolerant of jaywalkers in particular, and they’re more likely to jaywalk themselves,” Osterberg said.  “About one-third of drivers under age 35 think jaywalkers should go unpunished if caught crossing the street illegally, while 43 percent of them admit to jaywalking at least some of the time.”

The poll shows a possible connection between jaywalking and aggressive driving, as well. Those who often or sometimes jaywalk are more likely than their counterparts to engage in more-frequent aggressive behavior like speeding, tailgating, or failing to yield.

Men are also more likely than women to say they cross illegally some of the time – 37 percent versus 26 percent, respectively.

To learn more about PEMCO’s poll and to view a summary of the results, visit www.pemco.com/poll, where the public is invited to participate in an informal version of the poll to see how their own responses compare to those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in August 2010.

About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll
PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey that asked Washington drivers several questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 606 respondents, 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 +/- 4.1 percent.

About PEMCO Insurance
PEMCO Insurance, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, life, and umbrella insurance to Washington state residents. PEMCO Insurance is sold by community agents throughout the state and through PEMCO offices. For more information, visit www.pemco.com.