GPS Travel Diaries in Rural Transportation Research: A Focus on Older Drivers

GPS Travel Diaries in Rural Transportation Research: A Focus on Older Drivers

Trevor Hanson (University of New Brunswick, Canada) and Eric Hildebrand (University of New Brunswick, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6170-7.ch018
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Global Positioning System (GPS)-based travel diaries have emerged as valuable tools for urban transportation planning but have had little uptake in rural transportation planning. This chapter describes the methodology and effectiveness of employing vehicle-instrumented passive GPS units and participant-prompted recall with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in a rural travel diary study focused on understanding older driver travel behaviour. A convenience sample of 60 rural older drivers in New Brunswick, Canada participated for an average of 5.3 days. The GPS devices recorded 1649 “stops” of 1 minute or more, with 8% of all “stops” due to stoplights or traffic delay. Remaining “stops” were organized into 1494 trips (one origin with one destination), with participants supplying travel purposes and driver and passenger details for 99.1% of trips. An external battery for the GPS unit minimized satellite acquisition delay but was exhausted in 10% of cases. Results from the study permitted an exploratory analysis of the impact of select license restrictions on older drivers, the potential for rural older drivers to meet their needs without a car, and exposure analysis by road class.
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Gps Travel Diaries Vs. Pen And Paper Diaries

Pen and paper travel diaries were standard approaches for travel data collection prior to the advent of computerized approaches. They were traditionally one day in length, with the occasional two day survey (Stopher & Greaves, 2007). Some believed this timeframe was too short to understand travel behavior and its variability (Axhausen, et al., 2007), but an extended survey length increased respondent burden and the potential for underreported trips and inaccurate recording. These concerns have largely been addressed through the development and use of electronic travel diaries in the early 2000’s facilitated by commercial access to GPS (Murakami et al., 1997; Draijer et al., 2000; Doherty & Miller, 2000; Bachu et al., 2001; Wolf et al., 2001). What continues to pose a challenge for researchers is the adding of contextual information to the travel data such as trip purpose and demographic information, which could permit policy analysis, alternative development and other research possibilities. Methods of adding contextual data have included interacting with a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) to enter trip purpose, passenger numbers, etc. (Murakami et al., 1997), associating trip purpose with adjacent land use (Wolf et al., 2001) and prompted recall of participants to fill in the data gaps (Bachu et al., 2001). Recent advances in mobile computing have seen a shift from PDAs to GPS-enabled consumer “smartphone” devices which function as communication and data platforms and can facilitate individual travel data among different modes of transportation. Efforts are underway to see smartphone devices play a larger role in travel data collection for transportation planning purposes (Yu et al., 2012), though some devices have been found to be less accurate than dedicated GPS devices for travel data collection (Bierlaire et al., 2013).

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