Estimating Changes in State-level Vehicle Miles of Travel for Autonomous Vehicle Deployment Scenarios

This project is intended to examine the impacts of alternative AV scenarios on statewide VMT for the state of Vermont to better understand VMT changes across the urban/rural spectrum and enhance the capacity of policymakers to plan for AV deployment. Fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) will profoundly impact the transportation system, including potentially increasing vehicle miles traveled (VMT). VMT has been projected to increase due to increased trip-making and VMT incurred when AVs operate without any passengers for service or re-location. The magnitude of VMT change will depend on many factors including the balance of shared versus household-based AV ownership. There may be significant urban/rural differences in VMT changes. Most existing scenario modeling has been conducted using urban study areas. It is difficult to pursue state-level policy, especially in states with significant rural areas, without a more comprehensive understanding of the travel changes that may occur in an AV dominated travel environment including urban, rural and suburban landscapes. Widespread deployment of AVs holds the potential to increase VMT, congestion, energy consumption, highway maintenance needs and greenhouse gas emissions. Better understanding of the magnitude of these impacts across urban and rural landscapes will facilitate policy and planning for AVs, including policy and pricing mechanisms that address zero-passenger miles and promote vehicle sharing.


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