How often do we drive faster than the speed limit, and why?


According to the 2016 PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll, two out of three drivers (65 percent) admit to going over the posted speed limit at least some of the time. That’s up from 2011 PEMCO poll data that show just half of drivers (51 percent) said the same thing back then.

But despite an increasing need for speed, drivers’ reason for speeding has remained the same. Of those who admit to speeding on at least rare occasions, a majority (72 percent) blame the fast flow of traffic – they’re just trying to keep up with other drivers. Another 21 percent say they find themselves speeding when they aren’t paying attention to the posted speed limit.

What about you? How often do you drive faster than the speed limit, and what are your reasons?

Increasing the speed limit

Respondents were asked whether they would favor or oppose increasing the speed limit on rural freeways and interstates from 70 to 75 miles an hour. Overall, almost twice as many people favor the increase (63%) as those who oppose it (33%).

Would you favor or oppose increasing the speed limit on rural freeways and interstates from 70 to 75 miles an hour?

Total OR
33 33 Strongly favor increasing it from 70 to 75 mph
30 30 Somewhat favor increasing it
19 18 Somewhat oppose increasing it
14 15 Strongly oppose increasing it
4 4 Don’t know

Speeding behavior and buffer zones

Washington and Oregon drivers were asked how often, if at all, they find themselves driving over the legal speed limit. This same question was asked among Washington drivers in 2005, 2007 and 2011. We asked Oregon drivers once, in 2011.

The frequency with which drivers find themselves speeding has increased significantly since 2011. When asked in 2011, 52% of Washington drivers said they found themselves speeding often or sometimes. In 2016, 67% of Washington drivers said they found themselves speeding often or sometimes.

When you drive your vehicle, how often (if at all) do you find yourself driving over the legal speed limit?

Often
Sometimes
Rarely
Never

In Oregon, those who said they often or sometimes drive over the legal speed limit increased from 50% in 2011 to 65% in 2016.

When you drive your vehicle, how often (if at all) do you find yourself driving over the legal speed limit?

Oregon
2011 2016
14 27 Often
36 35 Sometimes
42 27 Rarely
7 8 Never

There are many reasons why a person might speed when driving. Which one of these best describes why you find yourself speeding most often?

Total OR
72 73 You’re traveling with the flow of traffic and everyone else is speeding
21 22 You’re traveling without paying too much attention to the posted speed limit and find yourself going too fast
2 2 You think the odds are that you won’t get caught
2 2 You choose to go faster
1 1 If you do get caught you can afford the consequences
2 0 Other / Don’t know

Drivers were asked whether they believe there is a buffer speed – that is, a speed above the legal limit where even if clocked by a police officer they wouldn’t be pulled over.

Do you believe there is a buffer zone?

Oregon
2011 2016
64 59 Yes, there is a buffer zone

On the freeway, do you think that buffer speed is...

Oregon
2011 2016
42 32 Traveling 0 – 4 miles faster than the posted speed
48 54 5 – 9 miles faster
10 14 10 miles or more faster

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, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, and umbrella insurance to Northwest residents. PEMCO Insurance is sold to consumers by the method they choose – phone, local community agents, or online. For more information, visit pemco.com.

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