Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Brian H. Lee


The carhops and drive-ins of the 1950s are symbolic of the freedom that the automobile has granted Americans. What the general public has gained from the automobile, however, may come at the expense of independent mobility and choices for today's adolescents, particularly those not yet old enough to drive or those from lower income families. Sprawl land use development patterns and limited transportation choices in most American cities often hold teenagers and their chauffeuring parents captive to the automobile. At the same time, information and communication technology is fast evolving and changing the ways in which teenagers live, interact, and communicate with others; easier transportation coordination is one potential outcome. This study seeks to examine teenagers' travel behavior for their most common destination ' going to and from school ' and how the use of technology influences this behavior. Survey data from five high schools, three in Northern California and two in Vermont, are used to identify the mode choice to and from school, socio-demographic characteristics, and technology use of the sampled teenagers. The built environment of the teenagers' home surroundings is determined by data obtained from the 2010 Census. Logistic regression analysis is used to describe the most significant variables influencing both mode choice to and from school, and the factors associated with the use of technology. Those variables with a family income component, such as high family education, access to a car and smartphone ownership have a positive effect on teenagers driving more to and from school. Similarly, those teens who travel longer distances depend more on rides and choose active modes of transportation than teens living in more populated neighborhoods. When it comes to technology use for transportation among teenagers, those living farther away from school, in worse connected neighborhoods are more likely to depend more on technology for arranging transportation, whereas those teens who choose active transportation modes to school depend less on. High density development policies seem the right recommendation to ensure teenagers choose active transportation alternatives to school and depend less on their parents, family, and friends to move around. Due to the strong influence of attitudes in teenagers' behavior, social education and culture adaptation programs could be suggested to encourage teens to become more confident on active transportation modes, as well as promote safe routes to school for both genders.



Number of Pages

95 p.