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Four-way stop: You go or I go? PEMCO Poll shows older drivers are more savvy to traffic laws

May 19, 2009

SEATTLE – Are Washington drivers so polite that it causes traffic issues? That’s the question tackled by a recent poll by PEMCO Insurance, examining whether drivers have a solid understanding of the laws governing the ubiquitous four-way stop. 

“We’ve all been at four-way stops when everyone seems to want everyone else to go first, leading to the awkward go-no-you-go situation,” said Jon Osterberg, PEMCO spokesperson. “What our poll showed is that the vast majority of Washington drivers have a solid understanding of the law, which makes us wonder what other factors lead to this behavior.”

According to the Revised Code of Washington driving laws, when two cars approach or enter an intersection at approximately the same time, the vehicle on the left must yield to the vehicle on the right, a law that 89 percent of Washington drivers correctly identified in the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll.

The poll results coincide with the debut of PEMCO’s latest Northwest profile, the overly patient, perhaps passive-aggressive “4-Way Stop, You Go. No You Go. No You Go. Guy,” a driver who, regardless of the law, takes driving graciousness to a vexingly irritating level.

A television spot featuring the new profile will debut on KING5 Wednesday, May 20, at 7:30 p.m. after a special segment of Evening Magazine that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the 60-second spot.

The “4-Way Stop, You Go. No You Go. No You Go. Guy” is part of PEMCO’s popular campaign “We’re A Lot Like You. A Little Different.” that connects the Northwest community through humorous and familiar depictions Northwest residents’ traits and behaviors. 

“While we poke fun at four-way-stop behavior, there’s important data behind the ad,” Osterberg said. “This idea of letting several cars go out-of-turn seems harmless enough, but sometimes overly courteous behavior causes traffic congestion.”

The poll indicates there is little confusion among drivers of all ages about who has the legal right-of-way at intersections.  However, PEMCO’s results indicate that drivers 55 and older are more familiar with the law than their younger counterparts – 96 percent of older drivers correctly identified the vehicle on the right as having the right-of-way, while 84 percent of those younger than 35 offered the correct response. 

Additional poll results show that drivers are savvy to other common intersection foibles, but are less sure when it comes to the laws that govern these situations.  Specifically, about two-thirds (65 percent) of drivers of all ages understand that it’s legal to turn right if the car directly across from you is passing straight through the intersection. 

More PEMCO poll results reveal that about three out of four people (76 percent) know that when drivers approach a roundabout intersection, they must travel all the way around the circle if they’re making a left turn. 

The “4-Way Stop, You Go. No You Go. No You Go. Guy” is just one of about 50 PEMCO Northwest profiles featured at www.werealotlikeyou.com. Other recognizable Northwest types on the site include the “Sandals and Socks Guy,” “Blue Tarp Campers,” and “Desperately Seeking Sasquatch.”

Visit poll.pemco.com to learn more about the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll and see how your own answers match up to the results.

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.

About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey that asked drivers in Washington state several questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 602 respondents, yields an accuracy of +/- 4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. In other words, if this study was conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than +/- 4 percent

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