Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, place - asia, place - africa


Whites, Vehicle miles of travel, United States, Trip length, Travel distance, Recreational trips, Racial factors, Race, Private passenger vehicles, Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey, Hispanics, Ethnic groups, Caucasians, American Travel Survey (1995), Age, African Americans


An increasing amount of travel, both long- and short-distance trips, is made in private vehicles for recreation. Peak congestion around attractions and leisure spots can be worse than congestion in the city center during peak periods. Moreover, recreational travel within, to, and through metropolitan areas contributes to congestion problems and points to the need for its incorporation into travel forecasting. The importance of leisure travel in state economies raises the question of why this segment of travel is not more often studied. The 1995 American Travel Survey and the 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey are used to examine the characteristics of recreational trips by private vehicle. Recreational trips by other modes, such as transit and airplane, are not included. Data from the surveys show that private vehicle recreation trips make up about 14% of all local trips, 23% of all long-distance trips, and 15% of total vehicle kilometers traveled on U.S. roads. Recreation trips are not equally distributed among all groups of people, however. African Americans report about half the amount of recreational automobile trips and one-third the average kilometers as whites. Other differences by race or ethnicity indicate that Hispanic families tend to travel in larger groups than African Americans or whites. Age, too, is a determining factor in the amount and type of recreational travel. Both the young and the old make more trips on a daily basis, but they make far fewer long-distance trips than those in middle age.