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Driving by choice or necessity?

  • Handy, Susan
  • Weston, Lisa
  • Mokhtarian, Patricia L.

From just about all accounts, Americans are driving more than ever, not just to work but to shopping, to school, to soccer practice and band practice, to visit family and friends, and so on. Americans also seem to be complaining more than ever about how much they drive--or, more accurately, how much everyone else drives. However, the available evidence suggests that a notable share of their driving is by choice rather than necessity. Although the distinction between choice and necessity is not always so clear, it is important for policy makers. For necessary trips, planners can explore ways of reducing the need for or length of the trip or ways of enhancing alternatives to driving. For travel by choice, the policy implications are much trickier and touch on basic concepts of freedom of choice. This paper first develops a framework for exploring the boundary between choice and necessity based on a categorization of potential reasons for and sources of "excess driving", and then uses in-depth one-on-one interviews guided by this framework to characterize patterns of excess driving. This research contributes to a deeper understanding of travel behavior and provides a basis for developing policy proposals directed at reducing the growth in driving.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.

Volume (Year): 39 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2-3 ()
Pages: 183-203

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Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:39:y:2005:i:2-3:p:183-203
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  1. Tommy Gärling & Kay Axhausen, 2003. "Introduction: Habitual travel choice," Transportation, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 1-11, February.
  2. Satoshi Fujii & Ryuichi Kitamura, 2003. "What does a one-month free bus ticket do to habitual drivers? An experimental analysis of habit and attitude change," Transportation, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 81-95, February.
  3. Sebastian Bamberg & Daniel Rölle & Christoph Weber, 2003. "Does habitual car use not lead to more resistance to change of travel mode?," Transportation, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 97-108, February.
  4. Susan Handy & Kelly Clifton, 2001. "Local shopping as a strategy for reducing automobile travel," Transportation, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 317-346, November.
  5. Ratner, Rebecca K & Kahn, Barbara E & Kahneman, Daniel, 1999. " Choosing Less-Preferred Experiences for the Sake of Variety," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-15, June.
  6. Mokhtarian, Patricia L. & Salomon, Ilan, 2001. "How derived is the demand for travel? Some conceptual and measurement considerations," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 695-719, September.
  7. Mcfadden, Daniel L., 2002. "The Path to Discrete-Choice Models," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt87h9p7j1, University of California Transportation Center.
  8. Mokhtarian, Patricia L & Salomon, Ilan & S, Lothlorien, 2001. "Understanding the Demand for Travel: It's Not Purely 'Derived'," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt5bh2d8mh, University of California Transportation Center.
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