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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

2002 National Transportation Availability and Use Survey

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The National Transportation Availability and Use Survey was born out of the President's New Freedom Initiative objective to "expand transportation options for persons with disabilities1." According to a 1997 U.S. Bureau of the Census report2, and substantiated by Census 2000, about one in five Americans has some kind of disability, and about one in ten has a severe disability. The National Organization on Disabilities reports that 30 percent of individuals with disabilities experience inadequate transportation, compared to 10 percent of those without disabilities3.

Only 32 percent of working-age people with disabilities are employed, compared with 81 percent of the non-disabled population. The extent to which transportation inadequacies for the disabled contribute to this underutilization of presumably willing workers is not known.

Moreover, although many persons with disabilities need specific types of modifications made to, and/or adaptive equipment added to, their motor vehicles to meet their transportation needs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there is little data available on the number, or the safety of vehicles with adaptive equipment.

In response to these data gaps, the BTS designed and conducted a national survey from July 12 through October 4, 2002, to collect data about how people with disabilities use transportation, what barriers they face in doing so, and their overall satisfaction with the transportation system. The purpose of the survey was to:

  • fill data gaps on transportation use by persons with disabilities.
  • benchmark their transportation experiences.
  • provide data that can be used to compare transportation experiences of people with disabilities to the transportation experiences of individuals without disabilities.
  • provide the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with data on the use of adaptive equipment for persons with disabilities in personal motor vehicles.

Some research questions the survey answer include:

  1. What are the differences in disability rate and characteristics between persons who self-identify as disabled according to the Americans with Disabilities Act definition compared to the Census 2000 definition?
  2. How many disabled people never leave their homes because there is no public transportation available or accessible to them?
  3. What types of transportation do disabled people use for local, non-work travel? For long-distance travel? For commuting?
  4. What barriers do people with disabilities face in using public transportation?
  5. What environmental, infrastructure, and vehicle changes are needed in order to expand transportation options for people with disabilities?
  6. How many personal vehicles are adapted for disabled persons?

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