Evaluating selected costs of automobile-oriented transportation systems from a sustainability perspective

This paper uses an existing framework that encapsulates the concept of transportation sustainability to evaluate selected economic, social, and environmental costs of automobile-oriented transportation systems as measured by rates of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) at the state-wide scale across the United States. States with higher percentages of commuting using private vehicles have higher rates of VMT per capita, higher carbon emissions, and pay more for transportation at the household level. Surprisingly, higher VMT per capita also corresponds to higher government spending on transportation, which likely reflects the expense of maintaining, repairing and expanding road networks. States with higher automobile-dependency also incurred higher social costs as measured by automobile-related fatalities. States with three times the VMT per capita than other places incurred five times as many fatalities showing that fatality rates are not simply a direct function of the amount of VMT occurring. Together, these metrics provide compelling evidence for the need to think about the impacts of VMT more holistically. These data can inform the global debate about the costs of VMT and provide guidance to those in transportation business and management to formulate cost–benefit analyses that are rooted in a transportation sustainability perspective.


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  • Accession Number: 01500536
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 3 2013 9:29AM