Higher gas usage may point to pandemic era travel patterns

When gas prices rise it seems reasonable to expect people to economize by driving less. According to one indicator brought to light by Eno Center for Transportation, gasoline usage in the U.S.—and by extension driving—hit an all-time high during fiscal year 2022. During the same period gas prices were the highest we’ve seen—adjusted for inflation—since the great recession that began in 2008. But the U.S. is swiftly returning to pre-pandemic levels of vehicle miles traveled (VMT), perhaps due to pandemic-era travel patterns and relocations.  

Two statewide ballot initiatives to fund transportation, two different results

In two states 3,000 miles apart, referendums that would fund transportation efforts, in part, were on the ballot this election cycle. Voters made their choice on Proposition 30 in California and Question 1 in Massachusetts. Both referendums sought to increase the tax rate on each state’s highest earners, but only one was successful.  

Affluent Americans reap the benefits of active lifestyles while avoiding the worst risks

Walking in the U.S. comes with a combination of safety risks and health benefits. That tradeoff has a lot to do with where you live and what demographic group you fall in, according to several new studies. Overall, the most disadvantaged groups—people of color and those in lower income brackets—often face the greatest risks while getting the fewest benefits. 

Rural America needs transit

In rural places, where population density is often as low as it gets, fixed-route public transit generally has few advocates. But there is unmet demand for transit in rural America, suggests new research presented in the Journal of Rural Studies. In rural areas where populations are growing and densifying, transit can help reduce segregation and ease the economic plight of the most vulnerable.

Prioritizing worker safety may have important implications on the DOT labor shortage

As projects ramp up, DOT staff are more important than ever. For many at the federal and state level, that means building capacity to administer federal funds; but for those on the ground, it means protecting workers from unsafe road conditions. Although traffic may increase, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of working crews—defined as vulnerable road users by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration—should be at the forefront of any project.  

Remote work could increase driving and transportation emissions

The impacts of telecommuting often come up in SSTI’s work around travel demand management and climate action plans, so our team makes a point of staying on top of the latest relevant research. Although the pandemic showed us that remote work helped cut traffic considerably, especially in major job centers, the verdict is still out on whether widespread telecommuting could really help lower travel demand. A growing number of studies suggest it could have the opposite effect.

Rural roads are among America’s most deadly

About 75% of all roads in the United States, around 3 million miles, are in rural areas and are vital for transporting goods and connecting communities. The likelihood that a car crash will result in death is higher in rural America, even with less than one fifth of the population living in these areas. 85,002 people were killed on rural roads between 2016 and 2020, and according to a new study published by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the risk of dying in a car crash was 62% higher on a rural road compared to an urban road for trips of the same length.

New federal vehicle charging requirements aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution for many states

As the federal government significantly invests in vehicle charging infrastructure, states voice their concerns on effectively implementing a consistent and reliable nationwide network while addressing their local needs. Many states are committed to supporting the transition to electric vehicles, but some are looking for more flexibility with funding requirements to coincide with their existing capacity for an effective system.

With the right support and a holistic approach, state DOTs can help address homelessness

People experiencing homelessness often congregate on land owned and managed by state DOTs, especially near overpasses and on other unused rights of way. Unsanctioned encampments, however, can pose risks to DOT staff, public infrastructure, and to the individuals living in them. That often puts the impetus on DOTs to act, but DOTs don’t always have the means to ensure those people and their property are well taken care of. A new source of funding in Washington State aims at changing that.