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Washington drivers agree: Texting and talking while driving don’t mix

August 18, 2010

SEATTLE – A new PEMCO Insurance poll shows that although the number of Washingtonians who text message while driving has increased, 83 percent of drivers surveyed either support the fines for enforcing the new no-texting law, or think they should be even higher.

According to the poll, opinion among Washington drivers is divided when it comes to the cost of committing a texting offense while driving.

Forty-four percent of those surveyed said the $124 fine for texting is fair, while about 40 percent said the offense is serious enough to warrant a higher fine. Just 11 percent of those polled said the $124 fine was too high. 

“The latest data shows that the vast majority of Washington drivers recognize the danger of texting while driving, and that’s encouraging. We were surprised to learn that one in four drivers think the fine should be even higher,” said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg.

PEMCO’s poll data shows that younger drivers age 35 or less think a $124 ticket is too high for a cell phone offense.

PEMCO also asked drivers their opinions on the consequences of talking on a handheld phone while driving, and their response mirrored the results related to text messaging. 

When it comes to talking, about 50 percent said a $124 fine for using a handheld phone while driving is the right amount. However, 30 percent of those surveyed said $124 is too low, and 17 percent said the $124 fine is too high.

Poll data also shows that about 80 percent of those surveyed don’t understand the effect on their driving records of receiving a ticket for either offense.

A substantial number of respondents, 43 percent, incorrectly believe that a ticket will be recorded as part of a person’s official driving record, and 36 percent said they don’t know how it’s reported.

“Perhaps that’s not a bad misperception, if it discourages almost half of all drivers from texting and talking,” Osterberg said. “PEMCO wants safer roads and freeways. That’s the bottom line.”

To learn more about PEMCO’s poll and to view a summary of the results, visit www.pemco.com/poll.  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 April 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, 635 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.

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