Why Americans are Driving Less?
Kern, Andreas Thomas
Since 2007 car ridership in the US has been declining at a rate of over 93 million miles per year. Taking population growth (0.07 percent) into consideration, this development raises questions about the future of automobile dependence in America (Puentes, 2012). Several studies identify the influence of changing lifestyle attitudes and increased use of information technologyas reasons behind this drop in per capita travel. Yet little research has focused on the possible association between age, telecommunications and annual mileage. This thesis looks atdifferences in driving trends between different generations and their potential implications for overall American transportation services and the US economy. In particular the paper addresses the question whether age, belonging to the millennial generation, leads to a drop in miles driven. Using National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) data from 2009, I examine the relationship between different generations and annual mileage. I hypothesize that changes in the habits of the younger population is primarily driving the drop in car ridership. I find that Internet use has no significant relationship with car ridership, there is a statistically significant negative relationshipbetween the millennial generation and car ridership. Due to the auto dependence evident in American society, this reduction in driving for the millennial generation could not only affect road congestion, but in long term lead to paradigm shifts in overall urban and economic policy.
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