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More than Price Influences Driving Habits, WSU Study Says

PULLMAN, Wash. – Even with gasoline creeping above the $3-a-gallon mark again this Memorial Day weekend, price isn’t the only factor influencing how much and when we drive, according to a study by Washington State University’s Transportation Research Group.

Ken Casavant

Other factors, such as marital status, gender, distance to destination and transportation alternatives, have as much if not more influence, according to Professor Ken Casavant, TRG director. And, other factors such as education level, race or income, have little or no influence on driving habits.

“Obviously, when gas prices go up, driving goes down,” Casavant said. “But there are many other variables that influence our choices of how much to drive.”

According to a survey conducted by Casavant, Professor Eric Jessup and WSU graduate student Sarah Simmons, age, gender, marital status and full-time employment increase driving. However, fuel prices, time spent driving and the availability of alternative transportation negatively affect the choice to drive by automobile.

“So, an older, married man who works full-time is going to be driving more,” Casavant said.

He noted that knowing what makes people drive when and where is important to larger issues such as fuel efficiency.

“The more we understand what shapes people’s driving habits, the better we’re able to develop transportation systems and policies that work,” he said. “If we know the demographic of an area, we can design alternative transportation systems to respond to their specific needs and habits.”

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