Critical Analysis of the Trends in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in the United States

The context factors act as Vehicle Mile Travelled (VTM) growth drivers. They include legal/political climate, family structure, social/cultural conditions and technological, economical and institutional structure of the American society. The discussion provided for the impact of the outlined factors is one-sided. Most of factors such as decentralization of companies can have either effect. Travel requirements decreases as a person ages due to the decrease in the activity level and decrease in work related travels. Contrary to the earlier arguments, the aging factor does not increase or reduce the VMT. This is because the decreased levels caused by the aging population are countered by the increasing travel levels caused by the maturing young adults. However, the improved health, wealth and higher licensing rates for the elder women have curtailed the reduction in the rates of mobility for the older generation. The argument on the aging factor overlooked the impact of the economic growth on the VMT. This reduces the rate of VMT. Changes in the nature of work will reduce VMT because most of the employment agencies and individuals are applying the use of computer technology to enhance production. Most of the workers can work from home and avoid travelling to their work places. Most institutions of higher learning are also leaning towards introducing online lessons. This will reduce the travel requirements for most students. Decentralization of companies to rural areas can also contribute into the reduction in the VMT because companies may be located near the workforce thus, negating the travel necessity. Finished goods will be brought near retailers and consumers negating the necessity of travelling over long distance to acquire them. The impact of the aging population is reasonable because the travelling tendency of a person is dependent on the activity level. The travel frequency increases as a person matures to middle age. Children may not directly produce VMT but they increase the travel demands for their parents. The middle aged adults would directly increase the VMT as they are in the peak levels of the work related travel. It is notable that the prevalence of dispersed suburban environments and more working parents have made many teenagers rely on auto-travel to and from school. The rise in the fuel prices will generally lead to the reduction in the VMT. However, changes will be insignificant because most people are forced to drive to and from work regardless of the oil prices. Stabilization of workforce participation rates may have either impacts i.e. it can reduce or increase VMT. The increase of women workforce may lead to the increase in the need for travel. However, the rate may still reduce because the involvement of women does not signify an addition in the work force. They just fill the vacancies that would have been filled by anyone, meaning that the number of the workforce is preserved as well as their travel needs. The impact of most of the outlined factors is dependent on the changes in other factors. For instance, changes in the increase in the cost of driving may increase VMT in case of the future growth in the economy and income levels (Ewing 2007). Changes in manufacturing and distribution and trends in the cost of real property are the two opposing factors that can lead to increase in VMT. The decentralization of industries due to the enhancement of new