Who’s Driving Change? Potential to Commute Further using Automated Vehicles among Existing Drivers in Southern Ontario, Canada Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Although automated vehicles (AVs) are rapidly being developed, the public sector continues to learn what this technology could mean for transportation policy. As reducing auto-based commute distances is one common planning objective, understanding the conditions under which individuals may adopt AVs to commute further is important. To that end, this study uses data from a 2016 survey of residents in Southern Ontario, Canada, to estimate the characteristics and motivations of individuals indicating the most interest in commuting further using AVs. Comparing findings with existing research on commute lengths and AV adoption, this study identifies how AV adoption may shape long-distance commuting, focusing on commuters who already drive to work. Results suggest significant potential for longer commutes and that longer AV-based commutes are expected to be taken by younger, higher educated, and tech-savvy individuals who already travel by car for regular daily trips, and by older individuals residing in urban neighborhoods. Findings on longer commutes, gender, and domestic responsibilities suggest that longer commutes could reinforce existing disparities in commuting distances between men and women but may be valuable to individuals with occasional chauffeuring responsibilities—suggesting potential for broader impacts in household social roles. Those expected benefits from AVs anticipated to motivate longer commutes include multitasking, safety improvements, better reliability, improved parking, and reduced traffic—suggesting that should AV technologies deliver in these realms, select commuters may derive significant utility. Paradoxically, several of the benefits expected to deliver the most consumer value may be undermined should additional AVs increase traffic significantly.

publication date

  • July 2019