The Psychology of Car Reliance

Do you get frustrated sitting in traffic? We’re willing to bet the answer is “yes.” And while there are steps we can all take to alleviate traffic, sometimes takiScreen shot 2014-07-08 at 1.09.06 PMng those steps is easier said than done.

That’s because behaviors like smoking, social media binging, late-night snacking, and driving all have something in common: people do them habitually and unconsciously. And a breaking habit is hard. That’s why a hot new approach to helping people choose when to use or not use their car applies techniques originally developed to treat other addictive habits.

A United Kingdom-based transportation consultancy is now using Motivational Interviewing to help people rethink driving habits. Instead of preaching at people or telling them about the dire consequences of their behavior, Motivational Interviewing gets people thinking about what is working and what isn’t, then helps them find reasons to incorporate more of what is working into their routines, and less of the habits that don’t work.

When you are running out the door for work, grabbing your keys and getting in the car there is no choice. Few stop to think “do I want to pick up those keys and drive today?” That is what makes it an ingrained behavior. And we only stop to think about once we get stuck in traffic, when it is way too late to actually make a choice.

The good news is that making small decisions when it comes to transportation can lead to big impacts. The first small step would be discussing what doesn’t work for your commute right now and actually getting you to think about your travel habits once again.

We at Movability Austin are learning more about this technique and would love to practice what we are learning. Contact Matt for a free interview session.



image via Flickr

One Response to The Psychology of Car Reliance

  1. Max Minor says:

    When Cap Metro started the BRT route, they failed many of their customers who do not live close to the BRT stops. They did this by reducing N. Lamar bus service to the point where the WAIT for the bus AFTER you get off of the train takes FAR longer than the wait for the train AND the actual train trip! (Of course, you could always walk a couple miles in the hottest heat of the day.) No bus wait should ever be longer than 15 minutes in any city that is truly serious about having good mass transit.