Highway Statistics 1997

Section VIII


The 1995 NPTS is the most recent in the series of personal travel surveys which collect data on trips made by residents of the United States. Previous NPTS data collection occurred in 1969, 1977, 1983 and 1990; this series provides a unique look at trends in household and personal travel over time. The 1995 NPTS is a rich data source of information about travelers and their characteristics, household composition, the amount and type of trips that people take every day, and selected information about household vehicles. It contains data on all household trips, by all modes, and all purposes.


The 1995 NPTS was a national random-digit dialing sample which yielded interviews from over 95,000 people living in 42,000 households throughout the United States. The 1995 NPTS interviews were conducted using Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) to collect data on trips made by all people five years of age or older in the household. Any person 14 years of age or older were interviewed directly, with a household adult reporting for children ages 5 to 13. The survey was conducted for the U.S. Department of Transportation by Research Triangle Institute.


The 1995 NPTS was managed by FHWA and sponsored by the following Department of Transportation agencies:

Federal Highway Administration
Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Federal Transit Administration
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Information was collected on all trips taken by household members during a designated 24-hour period known as "Travel Day." This trip information was expanded to calculate annual estimates of trips and miles of travel. The 1995 NPTS also collected information on the demographic characteristics of household members, characteristics of household vehicles, estimates of annual driving, information on workers, and detailed data on land use characteristics at the residence location.


Trip Chaining

One of the most important trips that people make every day is the trip to work. For many people the trip to work becomes the organizing principle of their day—more and more stops are linked to that basic trip. This linking of trips is called a trip chain. The side trips made on the way to or from work include dropping off and picking up passengers such as children at day care or school. They also include trips to fulfill family needs such as shopping and errands. Women make these types of trips more than men and account for a large portion of this growing type of travel.

Charts NPTS 1A and 1B show that people, both men and women, are less likely to stop on the way from home to work than on the way from work to home. Less than one out of five men and about one out of three women report stopping for any reason on the way to work. However, the majority of women (61.2 percent) do make at least one stop after work, and almost thirty percent (28.3 percent) make two stops or more (Charts NPTS 2A and 2B). Just under half of men stop on the way home from work, and about one out of six (17.7 percent) make two stops or more. These analyses are for adult men and women traveling on a weekday.

Of the people who do make stops, the side trips are made for all reasons. Stops to take another person somewhere and family or personal errands are most common on the way from home to work. On the way from work to home, stops for shopping are the most common. (Chart NPTS 3A and 3B).


Trips to take another person somewhere are very commonly linked to the work trip. The top five reasons account for eighty-five percent of all such trips (Chart NPTS 4). Women make the majority (64 percent) of these trips to escort another person somewhere—these trips can be made by any mode, such as walking, transit or private vehicle. They make just over 70 percent of the trips to pick up or drop off someone at school, 68 percent of trips to pick up or drop off someone for other family and personal business, and approximately 60 percent of trips to take or pick up someone from other social and recreational activities. Trips to drop off or pick up someone from work are equally divided between men and women.
Vehicle Ownership

One of the most significant growth factors over the last two decades has been in household vehicle ownership. The data from the 1995 survey indicate that the household vehicle ownership is beginning to stabilize. A separate question is whether having more vehicles than drivers in a household adds substantially to travel. Charts NPTS 5A and 5B show the annual person trips and the annual person miles of travel per licensed driver for households with the same number of vehicles as drivers and for households with more vehicles than drivers. Households with no vehicles were not included in this analysis. This graph shows that although the additional vehicles do not add much to the number of trips, the annual person miles of travel increases with increasing income in households with more cars than drivers.

Use of Older Vehicles

The households with more cars than drivers often include older cars. The average age of the vehicles in households with one car or less per licensed driver is between 7 and 8 years, whereas for households with more vehicles than drivers the average vehicle age (all vehicles) is between 10 and 11 years. As Chart NPTS 6 shows, over half (51.9 percent) of the households with more than one vehicle per licensed driver have a car 10 years or older, whereas less than 1 in 5 of the households (17.2 percent) with exactly one car per driver have a vehicle that old.

Younger drivers and older drivers use older cars— 40 percent of the drivers in each of these age groups (16 to 19 years and 60 and older) are driving cars ten years old or older, whereas just 12 percent are driving cars less thantwo years old. On the other hand, over forty percent of drivers ages 20 to 59 are driving cars 5 years old or newer (see Chart NPTS 7).

Annual Miles of Travel by Driver's Age

The 1995 NPTS included odometer readings taken approximately three months apart to estimate annual vehicle miles of travel. Graph NPTS 8 shows that driver miles peak at 14.6 thousand miles per year on average for drivers in their twenties, stays at about 13,000 for those in the 30- to 49-year age group, and declines only slightly to 11,000 for those in their fifties. Once drivers reach the age of 60 years or older they average only 7,500 miles per year.


Written reports and detailed explanation of the data collection can be found on the Web at:


The website includes an interactive table maker, which allows the user to develop their own analysis variables and run the results.

A copy of 1995 NPTS CD-ROM which contains SAS, DBASE, ASCII data, as well as the Users Guide can be ordered directly from the FHWA Technology and Research Center at (301) 577-0818, or FAX (301) 577-1421. Other 1995 NPTS products such as the 1995 Data Volume Book and the Summary of Travel Trends will also be available from the Report Center.

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