Driving Alone to Work

Percentage of the workforce that drives alone to work.

The 2022 County Health Rankings used data from 2016-2020 for this measure.

Reason for Ranking

The transportation choices that communities and individuals make have important impacts on health through items such as active living, air quality, and traffic crashes. The choices for commuting to work can include walking, biking, taking public transit, carpooling, or individuals driving alone, the last of which is the most damaging to the health of communities. In most counties, driving alone is also the primary form of transportation to work. Walking and mixed-methods commuting are associated with lower BMI than commuting by car. Choice of commuting method is dependent upon many factors which are influenced by the physical environment and individual safety concerns.[1] ­­Car-only commuters have significantly higher body fat percentage than mixed and active commuters.[2] People who drive to work are less likely to reach recommended activity levels than people who use other forms of transportation.[3] 

Key Measure Methods

Driving Alone to Work is a percentage

Driving Alone to Work is the percentage of the workforce that usually drives alone to work.


The numerator is the number of workers who commute alone to work via car, truck, or van.


The denominator is the total workforce.

Can This Measure Be Used to Track Progress

This measure can be used to track progress with some caveats. It is important to note that the estimate provided in the County Health Rankings is a 5-year average. However, for counties with a population greater than 20,000 individuals, single-year estimates can be obtained from the resource listed below.

Data Source

Years of Data Used


American Community Survey, 5-year estimates

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a nationwide survey designed to provide communities with a fresh look at how they are changing. It is a critical element in the Census Bureau's reengineered decennial census program. The ACS collects and produces population and housing information every year instead of every ten years, and publishes both one-year and five-year estimates. The County Health Rankings use American Community Survey data to obtain measures of social and economic factors.

Digging Deeper
Subcounty Area1

This estimate can be calculated by race using tables B08105A-G and by age in table B08101. These tables can be accessed through https://data.census.gov/. This measure can also be calculated for census tracts and census block groups using table B08301.


[1] Andersen LB. Active Commuting: an easy and effective way to improve health. Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. 2016; 4(5):381-82.
[2] Flint E, Cummins S. Active commuting and obesity in mid-life: cross-sectional observational evidence from UK BioBank. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinology. 2016; 4(5):420-35.
[3] Wen LM, Orr C, Millett C, Rissel C. Driving to work and overweight and obesity: findings from the 2003 New South Wales Health Survey, Australia. International Journal of Obesity. 2006; 30:782-86.

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When it comes to developing and implementing solutions to problems that affect communities, evidence matters. The strategies below give some ideas of ways communities can harness evidence to make a difference locally. You can learn more about these and other strategies in What Works for Health, which summarizes and rates evidence for policies, programs, and systems changes.

Support a combination of land uses (e.g., residential, commercial, recreational) in development initiatives, often through zoning regulations or Smart Growth initiatives
Introduce or expand transportation options that are available to the public and run on a scheduled timetable (e.g., buses, trains, ferries, rapid transit, etc.)
Modify the built environment to affect traffic speed and patterns via speed humps, pedestrian center crossing islands, roundabouts, etc.
Arrange active transportation with a fixed route, designated stops, and pick up times when children can walk to school with adult chaperones
Use zoning regulations to address aesthetics and safety of the physical environment, street continuity and connectivity, residential density and proximity to businesses, schools, and recreation, etc.

The County Health Rankings provide a snapshot of a community’s health and a starting point for investigating and discussing ways to improve health. Select a state and a measure below to see what’s happening locally.