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PEMCO Poll: Oregon parents set strict guidelines for teen drivers

March 23, 2012

SEATTLE – A new poll from PEMCO Insurance shows that Oregon parents mean business when it comes to enforcing driving restrictions for their teen drivers. Data from the Northwest's largest locally based personal-lines insurer reveals 58 percent of parents go beyond the rules imposed by Oregon's graduated licensing laws, and 52 percent think the state should enforce stricter consequences for those who violate teen-driving laws.

In Oregon, graduated licensing laws restrict 16- and 17-year-old drivers from all communication on mobile devices while driving, which includes talking and texting with the help of hands-free cell phone accessories. The laws also set a driving curfew, limit the number of passengers teens may transport, and require a minimum of 50 hours of supervised driving time.

According to the PEMCO poll, about six out of seven Oregon parents (86 percent) say they enforce the state's graduated licensing laws, and 58 percent say they go beyond the minimum requirements and set additional rules for their teen drivers.

Exactly half of parents say they enforce limits on the distances their teens can drive, and two-thirds put limitations on driving in bad weather conditions. Fifty-two percent of all drivers think that the state should escalate the consequences from a secondary to a primary offense for teen drivers who violate the laws.

"We're encouraged to hear that Oregon parents take teen-driving safety seriously," said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg. "Countless studies show that teens are more at risk for distracted driving, which is a leading cause of accidents among all drivers, and especially teens."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 5,474 people in the United States died in crashes that involved distracted driving in 2009. Of teen drivers involved in fatal collisions, 16 percent were reportedly distracted while behind the wheel.

Furthermore, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) estimates that the crash rate for drivers 20 years old and younger is double that of the population as a whole.

In addition to limiting the use of electronics, distances and permissible driving conditions, 26 percent of Oregon parents polled say they require their teen drivers to log hours or miles before earning additional privileges, and 50 percent say they keep tabs on how much their teen driver uses the car's radio and stereo equipment.

Interestingly, the poll revealed that Oregon parents are stricter than their Washington counterparts when it comes to restricting the use of electronics. Seventy-six percent of Oregon parents limit electronics usage while only 60 percent of Washington parents say they do the same.

However, just over half in both states believe that violating teen-driving restrictions should escalate from a secondary offense to a primary offense, which would allow law enforcement to pull over teen drivers for merely violating a graduated licensing law.

Under the current law, teens need to commit a primary offense, such as speeding, to be cited for a violation of graduated licensing laws.

To learn more about the PEMCO Insurance Northwest 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 with those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in April 2011 and July 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 www.pemco.com.

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