A culture of driving in California

By Zoe Herlick

Driving is the #1 contributor to climate change in California, where it is more common to hop in your car for a five minute trip to the store than it is to walk.


Why is driving bad?

Emissions! The exhaust from cars release hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, which react with the sunlight to increase ground-level ozone. Additionally, car exhaust releases carbon monoxide, threatening human health, and carbon dioxide, contributing significantly to global warming.

Why do people in California drive so much?


California Driving Statistics

California (the third largest state in the US) has the highest number of licensed drivers of any state in the US, followed by Texas. California has about 27,000,000 licensed drivers, whereas Texas has 17,000,000. In the US, Californians also have among the worst commute compared to any other state, averaging 28.9 minutes per day. California has more drivers than any other state and more road miles than most other states, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

What is a Negative Externality?

A cost that is suffered by a third party as a result of an economic transaction, and in this transaction

What does this mean and how does it relate to driving?

Traffic in LA

Tragedy of the commons example
Talking with my Aunt, CEO of EVgo, Cathy Zoi
EVgo Charging Stations


Tax Policy and Cap and Trade

Gavin Newsom, Governor in California

California is doing so well!

Tesla! Luxury electric car founded in California


Take the bus!
Take the train!
Carpool with friends!

Share this project
  1. April 25, 2019 by Gavin.Prentice

    I really enjoyed your presentation on this topic its something I can relate to here in Seattle where our population has far outpaced our transportation infrastructure causing long commutes and traffic. One question I have is going with your idea of negative externalities; since public roads are a public good they are going to generate a negative externality in the form of traffic because each driver is not having to pay for the added cost of their car being on the road the at creates traffic. Some economist think a tax on driving, i.e. toll roads, would help this situation since it would make each driver have to pay for the effect they will have on society. Even beyond just the time delay of traffic it also cost society more because it increases carbon emissions from cars if there is more traffic and people have to spend more time commuting and at less fuel efficient speeds There are some roads in Seattle that have a toll set up in one lane. The toll rises and lowers with the amount of traffic so on low traffic its only $0.50 to use them where as in rush hour it can be $8.00 or $9.00. Some economist theorize this strategy when implemented on all roads would hugely reduce traffic and incentives the use of carpools and public transportation. What are your thoughts on this policy in the context of your presentation? Would you support toll roads to reduce traffic and therefore carbon emissions by cars?

  2. April 26, 2019 by Janina.Troper

    Hi! I’m so impressed how easy your project is to follow and understand and also how informative it is. I loved hearing from your classmates and their take on driving affecting the environment, especially since they are the first of many generations who will be dramatically experiencing climate change. Your voice is very clear and your audio tapes are super concise, which made your project extremely engaging. I live in California as well and I can definitely see the driving culture at my school: students are constantly driving off campus to get lunch, even if restaurants/stores lay less than half a mile away! I wonder what schools could do to lower the amount of driving students do…possibly elongate lunch? give priority to students who carpool? What do you think?

    Thank you for sharing such an interesting project on this relevant topic!

  3. April 26, 2019 by Estelle

    I think this is a great area of focus because it is so relevant to our age group! I wonder who’s responsibility it is to educate about this, but also implement policy about carpool–highschools, the government? I also know that in my city, Atlanta, we don’t use the public transport because it is somewhat unsafe. I wonder how you can solve problems like that that are so engrained in other aspects of our communities.

  4. April 26, 2019 by Mila.Tewell

    Hi Zoe, this is an excellent presentation, and I love you peers’ comments and questions. You should go in and listen to Chloe’s podcast and the student from Beijing talking about high speed rail — wow, the difference this highly subsidized (think response to negative externality:) mode of transport is making in China is stunning. Price of a ticket in Philadelphia about $2.50, in Beijing about 10 cents if I remember correctly.

  5. April 29, 2019 by Georgia

    Hi Zoe! I really enjoyed your webpage about driving in CA. I also go to school in the bay area, so this was especially interesting to me, and I feel like I know so much more about the effects my everyday commute to school has on the environment. I also really enjoyed how you used audio recording instead of writing, because after reading so many catalyst pages it was nice to switch it up and receive the information in a different way. Also, having people from your school talk about why they drive made the page come to life and be more relatable rather than just data and facts. I wonder what other states have done to try and decrease the number of gas cars on the roads?

  6. May 02, 2019 by Ira.Kadet

    I love how you included the opinions of your peers, which makes the issue more relatable and relevant. While here in Japan driving isn’t as common, I can see why cars would be very useful and easy to use. But like you said, that is part of the problem because people are over reliant on them. Good article to raise awareness!

  7. May 12, 2019 by Rin Zoot

    I like your websites simple design, and how it isn’t overrun with words. The abundance of images also makes your website very aesthetic, and short explanations are easy to understand. I also like how you convey a lot of the pieces of information through recordings.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.