Recent poll results from Seattle-based PEMCO Insurance suggest that customers prefer what they're used to when it comes to self-service at the gas pump.
A study released in July found that nearly two-thirds of drivers in Oregon and Washington prefer their state's full- and self-service gas-pumping laws, which dictate who's allowed to pump fuel at gas stations.
In Oregon, where it's illegal to pump your own gas, nearly two out of three drivers (63 percent) support the state's ban on self-service gas stations.
In Washington, where drivers can choose between both full- and self-service stations, just one-third of that state's drivers favor the notion of mandated full-service gas, with 60 percent opposing laws that prevent them from pumping their own gas.
"It seems that drivers in both states prefer what they're most familiar with," said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg in an announcement. "In casual conversations, I've heard many Washington residents voice frustration at Oregon's mandatory full-service law, and we suspected Oregonians might share that sentiment. But our poll shows that's not the case."
Oregon is one of two states in the U.S. that ban self-service gas stations, with New Jersey requiring a similar full-service experience. In general, the laws require that all gas stations train attendants to pump gas for customers and prohibit drivers from pumping their own.
"The Oregon legislature says that full-service gas stations are especially necessary because of Oregon's high rainfall, which increases the risk of people slipping on wet pavement and falling on spilled gasoline," Osterberg said.
The Oregon State Legislature passed the self-service ban in 1951 (although self-service didn't become popular nationwide until the early 1970s) on the basis that self-service gas stations are less safe, increasing the risk of accidental fires. The Oregon Revised Statutes also defend today's law on economic grounds, citing that "self-service dispensing at retail locations contributes to unemployment, particularly among young people."
According to the PEMCO poll, Washington residents are unconvinced of the economic benefits of gas-pumping laws. The poll presented drivers with a proposed scenario suggesting that a shift from Washington's self-service model to the full-service law would result in an increased cost of about five cents per gallon and create new jobs for Washington residents. Despite the prospect of new jobs, nearly two-thirds of Washington drivers said they would oppose costlier gasoline.
Oregon drivers, however, are more motivated by economic factors: About half (49 percent) said they might favor a change in the self-service ban if it meant saving as little as five cents per gallon.
The poll also sought to determine which drivers were most likely to support full-service gas requirements. In Oregon, about seven out of 10 women support full-service gas stations, while only about half of men feel the same way. In Washington, both males and females generally oppose full-service stations.
Read more about self-service trends and statistics.