The effects of traffic congestion on travel behavior are complex and multidimensional because they are related to various factors such as density, land use patterns, network connectivity, and individual preferences. Traffic congestion is a phenomenon that not only affects transportation systems but also influences commuters’ quality of life and population mobility. The present research aims to analyze the effects of traffic congestion on individuals’ travel behaviors, addressing both direct and indirect effects of congestion on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per driver by implementing structural equation modeling (SEM) techniques. In addition to the causal analysis between traffic congestion and VMT, this study examined the complex relationship between an individual’s socioeconomic characteristics, the built environment, congestion, and VMT. Measuring local congestion at a national level is also a key contribution of this research. This study used the same methodology as the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to compute a road congestion index and quantify local congestion for 93,769 drivers within 337 metropolitan areas. Our findings suggest that congestion is the main driver of VMT reduction. The findings also confirm that residents in compact development regions have lower daily VMTs because of the proximity of origins and destinations in denser areas with higher job–population balances. Therefore, rather than expanding highway networks, public transit investment might address traffic congestion more efficiently—not only by providing residents with more equitable and sustainable means of transportation, but also by encouraging people to reside in more compact and location-efficient areas.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering