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Economic development not the only influence on personal car use, study finds
Date:7/18/2014

rs that influence the amount of personal automobile travel within a nation: car infrastructure, such as the quantity and quality of roads and parking; inexpensive fuel; pro-car policies, such as low vehicle taxes; a lack of alternatives to driving; having a population with a high proportion of working-age residents; the availability of domestic oil; the existence of a domestic car manufacturing industry; the geographic dispersion of a nation's population; and whether a society has a car culture.

For example, despite its many similarities to the United States, Australians drive less than Americans. This is largely caused by higher fuel prices, a smaller domestic car industry and the tendency of young adults in Australia to delay obtaining driver's licenses.

Japan has high personal income per capita, but also a long history of limited road infrastructure and no domestic oil supplies. Current policies in Japan make it very expensive to own a car, with high vehicle taxes and a periodic vehicle inspection that is difficult for older cars to pass.

Ecola and her colleagues drew three broader public policy implications from their research. First, income is not destiny. Most research in the area of long-range forecasting of personal automobile travel has used income as the primary or only variable. While there is a strong correlation between income growth and growth in vehicle travel, income levels alone are not good predictors of travel demand.

Secondly, Ecola said while economic growth can help understand demand for auto travel over time within one country, it is less helpful for understanding differences in demand across several nations.

Finally, among the nine factors that influence mobility, the study suggests that spatial dispersion of the population and car infrastructure are the most important. However, demand also is significantly influenced by transportation policies that keep fuel more expensive than the market price
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Contact: Lisa Sodders
media@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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