Apr. 3, 2003 If you still prefer getting your traffic reports from radio or TV, you may be showing your age.
A Penn State study has found that those over age 65 turn to radio and TV for the latest on tie-ups, traffic jams and travel info. The young get their travel information from the Internet, the information superhighway.
Dr. Kostadinos G. Goulias, professor of civil engineering and environmental engineering, and director of Penn State's Mid-Atlantic Universities Transportation Center, says, "Our results suggest that on-line travel information will become more important in the future as home Internet access increases, which could be significant for those planning evacuations or traffic diversions for homeland security." Goulias will detail the study at the European Commission Workshop on Behavioral Responses to Intelligent Transportation Systems, April 1-3 in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. His paper is "A Longitudinal Analysis of Awareness and Use for Advanced Traveler Information Systems." His co-authors are Tae-Gyu Kim and Ondrej Pribyl, both doctoral candidates in civil engineering.
The Penn State findings are based on data collected in surveys in 1997 and 2000 in a four-county region that includes Seattle in Washington state. In each survey, the same 1283 people from the same 804 households were asked to keep a travel diary for two consecutive weekdays. Each driving age person reported every trip and the trip's purpose, type, mode, starting and ending time, origin, destination and distance. The researchers also collected information on the participant's computer and communication technology ownership and their "awareness" of the available travel information on TV, radio, the Internet and telephone.
Comparing the 1997 and 2000 data, they found that computers and Internet availability at home were the two fastest growing technologies. Computers at work appeared to be stabilizing at 50 percent of the sample. Wireless telephone was also increasing rapidly.
In 2000, television and radio had the highest awareness with 69.4 percent and 58.7 percent respectively saying they were aware of the possibility of receiving travel information from those sources. The Internet was next with 47.2 percent awareness. Older persons were less likely to be aware of travel information on the Internet and those employed as professionals were most likely to be aware.
As awareness of travel information on the Internet increased, the frequency of using TV travel information decreased, suggesting a substitution of the Internet for TV. However, TV awareness enhanced the use of radio and telephone. A quarter of the participants said they didn't use any of the four sources of information and 2.3 percent said they used all of them.
Goulias says, "Clearly, there is strong potential for internet awareness increasing over time driven by increases in Internet access at home. Less clear is the potential for change in awareness about the other media."
The Puget Sound Regional Council and the U.S. Department of Transportation supported the study.
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