Roadway Use by Type

Road Types Driven

More than eight out of ten (83%) drivers say they frequently drive on city, town, or neighborhood roads, with an additional 13% driving on these types of roads sometimes.  More than two-thirds (68%) frequently drive on two-lane roads with speed limits of 45 MPH or more.  Multi-lane interstate highways with speed limits of 55 MPH or higher (55%) and non-interstate multi-lane roads with 40-55 MPH are driven on less, with just 55% and 45% of drivers frequently using these roads.  [Figure 2-A]

Urbanicity of Roads Used

Fifty-six percent (56%) of drivers report that the roads they normally drive are more urban than rural while about one-third (35%) drive on roads that are more rural.  Drivers in their 20s report the heaviest travel on urban roads (63%), while those age 46-64 are slightly more likely to say their preferred roads are more rural in nature (39%).  [Figure 2C] Drivers living in NHTSA Regions 3, 4, 5, and 7 are most likely to say they primarily drive on more rural roads (at least 40% do).  [Figure 2-D]    (A definition of the states within each Region can be found in Appendix A).

Number of One-Way Trips Weekly

On average, drivers report about 21 one-way trips in the past week.  Male drivers report about two more trips a week on average than do females. Drivers age 21-45 report the most one-way trips, while those age 64 or older report only about two-thirds of the trips on average.          [Figure 2-E]

Estimated Number of Total One-Way Weekly Trips

An estimate was made to determine the total number of driving trips in an average week.  The number of one-way weekly trips reported by study respondents was projected to the total U.S. driving population.  Using this method, it is estimated that drivers make about 4.23 billion one-way driving trips in a typical week.  Males make approximately 2.2 billion trips, while females report about 2.0 billion trips.  [Figure 2-F]

It should be noted that this estimate is based on respondents' understanding of “one-way driving trips” and their recall of the number of trips they made in the previous seven days.  In addition, the study was fielded in the first quarter of 2002, and driving trips during this time period may not be reflective of other times of the year.  This estimate is not expected to be a completely accurate estimate of the number of weekly driving trips, but is meant to provide an approximation of the magnitude of driving trips and relative comparisons among sub-groups of the driving population.

In comparison, the figure of total driving trips is lower than the preliminarily estimated 6.0 billion weekly vehicle trips reported in the 2001 National Household Travel Survey (NHHTS1).  The higher NHHTS figure is likely due to interviewing differences and questionnaire design (e.g. this study did not undertake to acquire extensive data on trip detail or segment definition as did the NHHTS). Again, the measurement in this survey is intended to obtain relative estimates of engagement in potentially distracting behaviors in relation to other behaviors.  Consequently, compared to the NPTS, the actual estimates of trips may be underestimated by as much as 30%.