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America and the Automobile

May 13, 2024 | Posted in: Insights

A research paper titled The ABC of Mobility presented the results of a survey covering 61 countries to determine what mode of transportation people use for each weekday trip. The results are depicted in the following graphic which was graciously provided by Visual Capitalist.

North America, and the U.S. in particular, are clearly outliers in that public transportation and walking/biking only account for about 8% of our daily travel. Note that our 92% usage of cars compares to the world average of 51%. A related statistic is that the U.S. has 860 cars per 1,000 people as compared to 704 in France, 635 in Norway, 632 in the U.K., 627 in Germany, and 612 in Japan.

Of course, the U.S. is a large country and only about 25% of the population resides in urban areas where they are less likely to rely on autos. Nevertheless, our love affair with cars has important implications for energy dependence and the small percentage of people walking or biking may well contribute to our obesity problem.