PEMCO Poll shows Northwest drivers disagree on self-service gas laws



​​SEATTLE – To pump, or not to pump? Recent poll results from Seattle-based PEMCO Insurance found that nearly two-thirds of drivers in Oregon and Washington prefer their state’s full- and self-service gas-pumping laws, which dictate who’s allowed to pump fuel at gas stations. 
In Oregon, where it’s illegal to pump your own gas, nearly two out of three drivers (63 percent) support the state’s ban on self-service gas stations. 
In Washington, where drivers can choose between both full- and self-service stations, just one-third of that state’s drivers favor the notion of mandated full-service gas, with 60 percent opposing laws that prevent them from pumping their own gas. 
“It seems that drivers in both states prefer what they’re most familiar with,” said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg. “In casual conversations, I’ve heard many Washington residents voice frustration at Oregon’s mandatory full-service law, and we suspected Oregonians might share that sentiment. But our poll shows that’s not the case.”
Oregon is one of two states in the U.S. that ban self-service gas stations, with New Jersey requiring a similar full-service experience. In general, the laws require that all gas stations train attendants to pump gas for customers and prohibit drivers from pumping their own. 
“The Oregon legislature says that full-service gas stations are especially necessary because of Oregon’s high rainfall, which increases the risk of people slipping on wet pavement and falling on spilled gasoline,” said Osterberg.
The Oregon State Legislature passed the self-service ban in 1951 (although self-service gas didn’t become popular nationwide until the early 1970s) on the basis that self-service gas stations are less safe, increasing the risk of accidental fires. The Oregon Revised Statutes also defend today’s law on economic grounds, citing that “self-service dispensing at retail locations contributes to unemployment, particularly among young people.” 
According to the PEMCO poll, Washington residents are unconvinced of the economic benefits of gas-pumping laws. The poll presented drivers with a proposed scenario suggesting that a shift from Washington’s self-service model to the full-service law would result in an increased cost of about five cents per gallon and create new jobs for Washington residents. Despite the prospect of new jobs, nearly two-thirds of Washington drivers said they would oppose costlier gasoline.
Oregon drivers, however, are more motivated by economic factors – about half (49 percent) said they would consider favoring a change in the self-service ban if it meant saving as little as five cents per gallon.  
The poll also looked at who, among drivers, is most likely to support full-service gas requirements. In Oregon, about seven out of 10 women support full-service gas stations, while only about half of men feel the same way. In Washington, both males and females generally oppose full-service stations.
In Washington, those with incomes above $50,000 are much more likely to oppose changing the law than are those with incomes below $50,000.
Regardless of who pumps your gas, the American Petroleum Institute offers consumer refueling safety guidelines to prevent fires and accidents:
  • Turn off your vehicle engine. Put your vehicle in park and/or set the emergency brake. Disable or turn off any auxiliary sources of ignition such as a camper or trailer heater, cooking units, or pilot lights.
  • Do not smoke or light matches or lighters while refueling at the pump or when using gasoline anywhere else.
  • Some gasoline-hose nozzles have a latch to allow a continuous flow of gas. Use only that latch to prop open the nozzle handle. Never jam the nozzle handle open with any other object.
  • Do not re-enter your vehicle during refueling. If you can’t avoid re-entering your vehicle, discharge any static buildup BEFORE reaching for the nozzle by touching something metal -- such as the vehicle door -- with your bare hand, away from the nozzle.
  • In the unlikely event a static-caused fire occurs when refueling, leave the nozzle in the fill pipe and back away from the vehicle. Notify the station attendant immediately.
To learn more about the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll and to view a summary of the results, visit, where the public is invited to take an informal version of the poll and see how their own responses compare with those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in November 2011.

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, 600 respondents in Washington and 402 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