Research on children’s school travels in the media2017-01-31
During the conference Transport Forum in Linköping, Ph. D student Jessica Westman was interviewed by Swedish Radio about her latest study on children’s travel habits. The study shows that an increasing number of parents drive their children to school by car, regardless of the distance.
The study shows that parents’ emotions influence their choice of travel mode where the car is perceived as the most convenient and available alternative compared to cycling, walking or riding the school bus.
– This is an unfortunate development since we know from previous studies that children feel much better when using the other modes.
Parents also value social interaction as an important factor when choosing mode which results in them not letting their children travel independently. If social interaction is important for travel mode choice, school bus should be viewed as a great alternative for their child – it is a perfect opportunity to be sociable and interact with friends.
– It is difficult to break habitual patterns. Parents choose the car often out of sheer habit even if there are more positive aspects to cycling, walking or taking the school bus.
– In order to fully understand children’s increasing travel habits by car it is important to capture all aspect of the choice of travel mode, not only “hard evidence” such as how distance, traffic situation and the child’s age affect the journey to school - but also the influence of emotions. If we do not have a broad knowledge of how emotions control choice of travel mode, it is difficult to find the right tools which can motivate parents to change the travel behavior of the school trip.
Jessica Westman presented her research at the conference Transport Forum, one of the largest annual conference for transport, which was organized by VTI on January 10-11 in Linköping, Sweden.