Commuting Habits in U.S. States

Daily solo commuters are some of the largest contributors to vehicle carbon emissions in the United States. Carpooling is a much better alternative for the environment, but unfortunately, this is not always possible in the fast-moving life of big cities. People have different work schedules and work far away from one another, so carpooling is not always easy. Fortunately, electric vehicles are rising in popularity, but only some US states are making the shift to electric in order to reduce their carbon footprints.

Today, gas-powered vehicles still account for up to 99% of car purchases, and electric vehicles are less accessible since they rely on charging stations that may not be in place. Electric vehicles are especially inconvenient for people who live in rural areas, perhaps miles from the nearest electric charging station. Carpooling in remote areas is not an easy option either, as people often live on acres of land far away from one another.

Unsurprisingly, U.S. states in which commuters typically drive to work alone are also the states with the fewest number of electric vehicles on the road. This is a lethal combination, leading to a substantial carbon footprint.

The experts at The Zebra have analyzed U.S. Census data to break down commuting habits state-by-state, along with overall electric vehicle adoption. They then combined these rankings into overall “eco-impact.”

As gas-powered cars make up over one-fifth of the U.S.’s total carbon dioxide emissions, people making small changes every day, such as carpooling with a coworker, can have major effects on our carbon footprint. One gallon of gas burned adds up to 24 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted into the air. This quickly adds up over time, just imagine how polluted the air must be during rush hour! The amount of carbon dioxide used on a commute depends on the length of the trip and the type of vehicle.

Some U.S. states are taking matters into their own hands in order to combat car pollution. For example, California has one of the largest carbon emissions in the U.S., but is putting new laws into effect to promote carpooling. They are also the nation’s leading adopter of electric vehicles.

Hawaii is the most eco-friendly state overall, with the highest number of electric vehicles and the highest rate of carpooling. This makes sense, as the island state is much smaller and people, therefore, live closer to both one another and their jobs.

Take a look at the infographic below for more findings: