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The Impact of Weather on Children's School Travel Mode: Evidence from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey



The Impact of Weather Conditions on Children's School Travel Mode:

Evidence from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey


Yang Han

Master of Science in Civil Engineering

University of California, Irvine, 2014

Professor Jean-Daniel Saphores, Chair

Intuitively, weather conditions may prevent people from relying on walking for different trip purposes. However, to-date this topic has not attracted a lot of attention from researchers. The purpose of this thesis is to start filling this gap based on data from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS). I estimated binary regression models to analyze trips to and from schools for children aged 5 to 16 in five study areas of the Unites States. I found that snowfall and precipitation are statistically significant for to-school trips, but not for to-school trips. The variable that captures parental concerns about poor weather has explanatory power both statistically and practically. Parents, who consider harsh weather an issue for children's active transportation, are less likely let their children walk or bike to school. However, in my from-school model, none of the factors related to the weather are significant.

Future studies could assign weather data at a finer temporal scale (hourly instead of daily). Since parents are concerned about poor weather, cities may consider cleaning sidewalks (removing snow) and building more shelters along school routes to facilitate active travel.

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