Left-Lane Campers Cause Frustration, Congestion on Northwest Roads – But It May be Declining

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On the rare occasion when gridlock disperses on Northwest highways,
drivers here are often vexed by another traffic-clogging culprit: the
left-lane camper. But according to the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance,
though a majority of Northwest drivers regularly witness the oblivious
lane-hogging behavior, new data suggests it may be declining.

According to the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll, which surveys drivers
in Washington and Oregon, 83 percent of them say they witness left-lane
camping – obstructing the flow of traffic while driving in the left lane
– at least often or sometimes.

But in Washington, where PEMCO has tracked drivers’ attitudes about the
passing lane over time, the poll finds that fewer drivers say they
witness left-lane camping today compared to 2011, which could suggest a
decline in that behavior. About half of Washington drivers (49 percent)
said they often witnessed left-lane camping in 2011, while just one out
of three (35 percent) of those drivers say the same today.

“If those perceptions are true, the decrease could be thanks to state
troopers conducting ‘emphasis patrols,’ cracking down on drivers who
impede traffic,” said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg. “It’s not just
frustrating for other drivers trying to pass, it’s a safety issue for
everyone sharing the road.”

While drivers may think they see the offense less often, the poll shows
there’s room for more education. In Washington, half of drivers (53
percent) know that it’s against the law to camp in the left lane, but
nearly the same amount (47 percent) aren’t aware that campers are
breaking the law.

In Oregon, lawmakers have proposed legislation that would make left-lane
camping illegal in that state, but the bill has yet to be approved.
Surprisingly, 52 percent of Oregon drivers believe such a law already

“The issue isn’t just left-lane campers driving below the speed limit.
If they’re entrenched in the left lane and impeding traffic behind them,
regardless of their speed, the law says they must move over: ‘Keep right
except to pass,’” Osterberg said.

So who are the worst offenders? Just 12 percent of drivers admit to ever
left-lane camping themselves. Of them, younger drivers are more likely
to fess up to the offense. The poll reports that 20 percent of Northwest
drivers under 35 say they often or sometimes camp in the left lane,
while just 9 percent of older drivers say the same.

“Maybe left-lane camping is another one of those quirks shared by many
Northwesterners,” Osterberg added. According to the poll, while
one-third (35 percent) of drivers think there’s no difference in the
rate of left-lane camping in the Northwest compared to other regions, at
least twice as many think it happens more here than those who think it
happens less in the Northwest (34 percent vs. 12 percent).

For a complete summary of PEMCO’s poll results, visit www.pemco.com/poll,
where you’ll find the responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in
November 2015.

About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey 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. J.D.
Power has ranked PEMCO “Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Auto
Insurers in the Northwest Region, Three Years in a Row.” For J.D. Power
award information, visit


PEMCO Insurance
Jon Osterberg, 206-628-4019
+ Associates Inc.
Kristi Herriott, 206-443-9357