Chet Skwarcan is an award-winning engineer, writer, and industry innovator in the field of traffic engineering. He is known for leveraging his creativity, logic, and technology to solve today’s engineering challenges.

Cars Are Not Meant to Be Idle

By far, the question I get asked the most is, “Can I see your driver’s license and registration?” But another question often asked is, “As a homeowner, how much traffic do I generate?” Because think about it, most of us live in houses, apartments, or condominiums — so it might surprise you how much traffic you’re contributing.

Vehicle tracking data is available for newer vehicles, but don’t worry, it is anonymized (to protect your privacy). So, although I may know a vehicle leaves your address every day (your house?) and goes to another address (your work?) and stops at Taco Bell on the way there (and the way back), I don’t actually know if it was you driving the car or a friend of yours or someone who just looks like youThat’s because the data is anonymized — your privacy is protected.

And if you put all this data into a computer — thousands and thousands of vehicles, latitudes, longitudes, time of day, etc., we can see, for example, how great it would be to have a more interesting job.

Fortunately, someone already did this. We know, for example, a typical single-family home generates approximately 10.4 trips per day (5.2 coming and 5.2 going). This number includes your share of friends, visitors, and deliveries. Also, keep in mind, this is an average number — your neighbor far exceeds this (and I know, you never get to go anywhere).

So, if you and 99 of your friends live in a subdivision (i.e., 100 houses), traffic engineer’s would expect, on a typical weekday, approximately 520 vehicles entering and 520 vehicles exiting during a 24-hr period. More interesting, during the evening rush hour, we would expect approximately 60 vehicles entering and 40 vehicles exiting. And if there’s more than one entrance, these numbers would be distributed between all the various driveways.

This information is based on hundreds of studies across the nation. And if you do not live in a single-family home, data is also available for apartments, condominiums, senior housing, mobile homes, campgrounds, etc.

The bottom line is this: keep doing your fair share — go someplace 5.2 times a day (and then return 5.2 times per day). Traffic engineers depend on it. Thank you.

Chet Skwarcan (traffic engineer, author, unique insights) with over 25 years of traffic engineering experience — online help available at