Most drivers in the Northwest depend on the “buffer zone” above the posted speed limit in order to speed without getting caught or pulled over, according to a recent poll by PEMCO Car Insurance. According to the results, about two-thirds of drivers in the region believe they can get away with speeding even if a law enforcement officer sees them, although the extent varies. Speeding is often considered as a danger sign by insurance firms causing them to raise car insurance quotes for those who get caught.
In Washington, about half of drivers believe there is a freeway buffer zone they can exploit, with nearly 60 percent saying they can go 4 miles per hour over the limit without fear. Nine out of ten Washington drivers polled admitted to speeding at least once, and half reported doing so at least some of the time.
In Oregon, the number of drivers who admitted to speeding and the frequency they reported was similar. However, two-thirds of drivers indicated they could exceed the speed limit without trouble, and more than half indicated the buffer zone goes as high as 9 mph over the official speed limit. PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg noted Oregon has a lower legal speed limit, set at 65 mph, which may account for the difference.
Most drivers in the two states attributed their behavior to following the flow of traffic, although a few reported they speed without realizing it. Drivers with incomes higher than $50,000 per year were more likely to report speeding, as were those under the age of 35.
There were some other differences between states. In Oregon, only 61 percent of those polled said they should slow down before reaching 9 mph above the speed limit, compared to 71 percent in Washington
Dangers of Speeding
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost half of all crashes involving speeding took place on roads where the speed limit was 55 mph or higher. Osterberg stated this and other information illustrates the danger of speeding, noting that the prevalence of speeding does not change the increased risk of accidents it causes. The Washington State Patrol notes speeding is one of the most common dangerous driving behaviors. Along with neglecting the use of seatbelts and driving impaired, it substantially increases the risk of injurious or fatal crashes.
When drivers are caught and receive a speeding ticket, they may face consequences such as fines and points on their licenses. These signs, which can point to reckless driving, are considered warnings by insurance companies, and may lead to higher auto insurance quotes to compensate for the increased risk such a driver represents to insurers.