Conventional thinking holds that congestion stifles the economy. Sitting in traffic or having it take longer to get someplace important would seem to be a drain on productivity. On the contrary, a group of Texas researchers looking at travel survey data from the Puget Sound area of Washington State found that travelers exposed to traffic congestion and travel delay will simply find a means of getting from point A to point B that doesn’t rely on driving. Their novel approach incorporates data on whether people choose to live in places that support their preferred travel options or way of life, addressing the question of residential self-selection.
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.
Millennials aren’t driving as much as previous generations
The consumption choices and lifestyle preferences of Millennials—those born between 1981 and 1996—and their differences from those of the previous generations have repeatedly piqued academic and policy makers’ interests. Although some suggest they might just be slower in adopting previous trends, a recent study from the University of Texas at Austin suggests that they are a generation that prefers to drive about 8-9 percent less than Generation X and Baby Boomers, and that they might continue to drive less as they get older.
Findings from Toronto: Sticks and carrots for TNCs
We have a lot of evidence that venture capital-subsidized transportation network companies are cannibalizing transit and driving up VMT. Now a new study of this phenomenon examines the patterns of TNC trip making and suggests a system of taxes and subsidies in response. The paper, which employs data from a 2016 personal transportation survey, finds that TNC trips that could reasonably be taken on transit tend to occur during peak hours and for non-work trip purposes. Given policy concerns for maintaining transit ridership and reducing auto congestion and emissions, the authors suggest penalizing these TNC trips with higher fees.
Residential exposure to local traffic emissions associated with higher risk of stroke
A recent study finds that long-term residential exposure to locally emitted black carbon—primarily from traffic exhaust—is associated with higher stroke incidence. BC comprises a significant portion of particulate matter. Although BC is a known health hazard with health effects that are especially pronounced in populations in dense urban areas, the U.S. does not currently include it as a separate criteria pollutant in its National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
Why are they Snapchatting while driving, and what will get them to stop?
A study from Australia gives some insights into use of social media while driving, looking not just at the incidence, but also what deters the behavior. But while the study began as a general look at use of all social media by young drivers, it ended up focused on the use of Snapchat as the most common mobile phone behavior in the car.
A troubled marriage between safety research and practice
Road design often is not as science-based as we like to think, according to a new study in Accident Analysis & Prevention. Years of biased or misreported research findings inform many of the design practices that are common today. And while there is plenty to be learned from safety research, especially in recent decades, it may be worth revisiting some long-held assumptions and rethinking how research informs practice.
A method for quantifying risks imposed on cyclists while sharing road with motor vehicles
Keeping vehicle occupants and pedestrians safe via engineering standards and street warrants is common practice around the world. But in spite of the growing level of support for bicycling for both commuting and recreation, bike facility design standards are rarely backed by empirical data and are often inconsistent between different cities and states. A recent study presents a methodology that can potentially be used by city planners for predicting the probability of unsafe interactions between bicyclists and motor vehicles based on passing events on 4-lane urban arterials with no on-street bike lanes.
As crashes rise, distracted driving has (mostly) stayed the same
Are cell phones to blame for rising traffic deaths? We have looked for evidence before and came up empty-handed. A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that drivers are just as distracted now as they were a few years ago, but some are swapping old distractions for new ones, like handheld phones. That could be a problem, according the study, but it doesn’t explain why our roads have become so dangerous.
Is working from home really reducing VMT?
With advancement in technology and telecommunications, teleworking is becoming easier for a variety of professionals. Cities and administrations support these initiatives with the understanding and hope that they’ll reduce congestion and total vehicle miles traveled. But do they really reduce VMT? A recent study disputes the assumptions and finds that for most households, teleworking has a positive relation with VMT.