Student Commuters: Unpacking the Factors That Influence How High School Students Travel to School
As environmental concerns grow, obesity rates rise, and people become distanced from nature, some activists and public health advocates are encouraging the use of more physical modes of transportation over driving. The limited literature on commuters’ transit decisions mainly focuses on adults living in urbanized environments while paying scant attention to driving-aged teenagers, despite the importance of their daily commute to school. Because this group is at a pivotal point in the transition to adulthood, it is likely that their decisions and behavior at this stage of life will have long-term implications for their routines concerning exercise, diet, health, transportation, and appreciation of the environment. Using quantitative and qualitative data from questionnaires, focus groups, and public sources, as well as levels of traffic stress mapping models, this study examines the factors that shape students’ methods of transportation to and from school. I found thatinfrastructure and perceptions of safety are highly associated with high school students’ transportation mode use, whereas environmental concern and self-esteem are not. The article concludes by describing other possible motivators of mode usage and ideasfor future research.