CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES AND SCHOOL TRAVEL: A TOUR BASED ANALYSIS OF THE INFLUENCE OF CHILDREN'S OUT-OF-HOME ACTIVITIES ON THE CHOICE OF SCHOOL TRAVEL PATTERNS
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Understanding children's travel patterns is important because children are often dependent on others for travel choices and their travel patterns can have significant implications on travel by parents or other members of the household. Children's auto-dependence, particularly in school travel, has been a point of concern among researchers and policy makers. The rising levels of childhood obesity and the dramatic decline of children's active school travel in both the U.S. and abroad have turned researchers' attention to a better understanding of school travel behavior. Recent work in this field looks to understand what factors influence the travel decisions of school children in order to better inform current and future policies trying to decrease children's auto-dependence and promote active travel. This study looks to analyze children's out-of-home activities and the impact these activities have on children's travel patterns. In particular, it explores the role of children's activities on the choice of tour patterns and travel mode to school. Using both national and regional data derived from the National Household Travel Survey, this study performs descriptive analysis and estimates multinomial choice models testing the effect of children's participation in out-of-home activities on their joint decision of school tour type and mode choice to school. This research examines the effects of children's out-of-home activities on a child's travel to school patterns, while controlling for important factors including children's, parental and household characteristics as well as trip attributes and built environment measures derived from children's travel literature. The focus is on school-age children from 5 to 17 years of age. The findings of this study point to the importance of considering children's activities on travel behavior research. This research contributes to the understanding of the factors influencing children's travel decisions to school and informs policy makers of new factors to consider when making policy decisions. In addition, because children's travel is so interconnected with adult travel, the link between children's activities and travel choices may have implications to overall transportation policy.