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What Are the Pros and Cons of Driving Your Car to Campus?

Editorial Staff

What Are the Pros and Cons of Driving Your Car to Campus?

Around 56% of undergraduate college students have a vehicle with them while attending school, despite the fact that many smaller commuter campuses are engaging in publicized conversions from drivable to walkable access. In a myriad of universities (including the University of Washington in Seattle, the University of Denver, in Colorado, and Arizona State University) you don’t need a car at all, as public transportation is widely accessible. Some universities, such as the University of Colorado in Boulder, are at a walkable distance from a host of food establishments, and it’s easy to access all your daily needs without a vehicle. Having said that, many undergrads and postgrads prefer to drive a car, either because they work or because they simply prize the ease and speed of getting from point A to B without waiting on anyone. Read on to discover important considerations of whether driving a vehicle to your campus is worthwhile. 

College Drivers’ Motivation

Studies indicate that there are six factors that sway college students to drive their own vehicles to campus. These include the physical environment (the availability or not of adequate transport), psychological factors (the sheer enjoyment of driving a car), spatial characteristics (the frequency of trips and time/distance covered), personal attributes (status, gender, age), and mode-specific factors (including convenience). It is easy to see how driving a vehicle can be the top choice for an individual depending on the weight of one or more of these factors in their lives. As such, there is no clear-cut answer on whether having a vehicle is the right choice.

The Sustainability Factor

Student travel generates relatively high emissions at 115,389 metric tons of carbon dioxide in a given year. Driving daily to campus if you live at a non-walking distance from your campus can add to the amount of greenhouse emissions, though there are alternatives, including electric and hybrid cars. Studies show that electric cars like Teslas (which, incidentally, are students’ top pick when it comes to their “dream car”) emit over three times less than fuel-running cars. Of course, you don’t need Tesla money to make a big difference. Well rated hybrid cars from brands such as Honda, Ford, and Toyota are more accessible yet can average a tailpipe CO2 reduction of around 30%. These reductions are substantial, and the more students opt for electric or hybrid vehicles, the more significant the total impact of going electric can be.

Traveling Off-Campus

Around 21.5% of first-year college students reside in states other than their own, indicating that many can decide to drive to college and back home for breaks and the holidays. Having a car additionally allows students to take road trips during longer breaks. A study by Zipcar indicates that 25% of college students enjoy taking road trips with friends as a means of enjoying life-changing experiences. And nearly 30% feel that not having access to a car to visit family and friends is a major stressor.

Cost Considerations

One of the best things about public transport is its accessibility. A car costs an average of $8,649 per year to own and maintain, and this amount can be even larger if students are driving interstate. Meanwhile, it costs around $1,840 to get to and from college via public transport, making the latter the cheaper option of the two. 

The Joy of Driving

As mentioned above, psychological factors are key when people weigh up whether to buy a car or not. Research has found that 62% of people drive because they enjoy it, not just to get from point A to point B. Some of the top factors that make driving so enjoyable include a sense of independence, the adrenaline rush, the chance to make memories and explore new places, and the mental health benefits of driving a car. Rush traffic and stress aside, peaceful drives can be restorative and they enable people to access beautiful natural sites at the drop of a hat.

The choice as to whether to take a vehicle to college depends on various factors. From the cost and sustainability perspectives, public transport is your best, unless you go electric. However, having a car makes interstate travel and road trips easier, and for those with family and friends who live far away, driving one’s own vehicle is certainly more convenient.

SEE ALSO: Retro Rides and College Student Pride: The Advantages of Driving a Classic Car on Campus

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