Keep up with essential planning news and commentary, delivered to your inbox every Monday and Thursday.
New Study Predicts Vehicle Travel Saturation Levels
The report, The Future of Driving in Developing Countries by the RAND Corporation's Institute for Mobility Research, identifies various factors that affect motor vehicle ownership and use, including demographics (the portion of residents who work), incomes (which is the primary factor considered in previous studies), geography (density and travel distances), vehicle infrastructure (road and parking facility quality and price), fuel price, vehicle ownership policies (such as vehicle taxes and registration fees), quality of alternatives to driving, domestic oil and vehicle production industries political influence, and the favorability of car culture (whether popular culture and consumer attitudes favor automobile travel over other modes).
This analysis framework is used to develop a predictive model of motorization. The results indicate that although motor vehicle ownership and use tend to increase as incomes increase from very low to moderate, at high incomes they tend to saturate, and the level of saturation depends significantly on public policies. This explains why, for example, per capita vehicle travel saturated at about 4,000 annual kilometers in Japan, 7,000 annual kilometers in Germany, 10,000 annual kilometers in Australia, and 15,000 kilometers in the United States. This model can be used to predict future vehicle travel in developing countries, and to identify policies to help create more efficient and equitable transport systems.