Project Title

Environmental and Safety Attributes of Electric Vehicle Ownership and Commuting Behavior: Public Policy and Equity Considerations

Collaborating Universities

Marshall University
One John Marshall Drive
Huntington, WV 25755

Morgan State University
1700 East Cold Spring Lane
Baltimore MD 21251

Virginia Tech
1424 S Main St.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Principal Investigator(s)

Z. Andrew Farkas (MSU) - Email:
Hyeon-Shic Shin (MSU) - Email:
Christine Risch (MU) - Email:
Kent Sowards (MU) - Email:
Jianhe Du (VT) - Email:

Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization)

USDOT: $82,000 (Federal)
MSU: $60,000 (Match)
MU: $10,000 (Match)
VT: $13,000 (Match)

Total Project Costs

$82,000 Federal/$83,000 Match

Agency ID or Contract Number


Start Date


Completion Date



Electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. Maryland promotes EVs by subsidizing purchases of them, invests in charging facilities at rail transit stations, and assists in funding such facilities for local jurisdictions.

This research would discern whether charging facilities at rail transit stations enhance market penetration of EVs and affect commuting behavior and mode choice. This research posits that there is a nested automobile choice between using plug-in hybrid electric (HE) or battery electric (BE) cars and using conventional cars and that owners of EVs have a lower propensity to choose rail transit for commute trips than owners of conventional cars. Research would also discern attitudes toward safety and demand for in-vehicle safety technologies.

This research will survey current registered HE and BE owners in Maryland regarding attitudes toward environmental and safety considerations, demand for safety technologies, commuting behavior and use of rail transit before and after purchase. The survey will also query a random sample of non-EV owners about their attitudes, demand for safety technologies, commuting behavior, and propensity to buy EVs. According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), as of November 1, 2013 there were 2,793 EVs registered (C. Burke, MVA, personal communication, Feb. 6, 2014).

MVA will identify EV owners by county and develop a random, geographically stratified sample of a similar number of non-EV owners. MVA will then notify the owners and non-owners by letter of the survey objectives and a web link that would take owners to the on-line survey. MSU will reach a privacy agreement between the university and MVA. All information regarding participation in this survey will be confidential.


Potential implementation of project outcomes

Mode choice behavior will be incorporated into state-wide traffic models and charging infrastructure plans. The social equity issues resulting from public charging facility investment would be addressed through policy recommendations for EV promotion by income group.


Expected benefits and impacts

The survey results and statistical analyses of data will lead to policy recommendations for EV promotion, funding and placement of public charging facilities, and traffic safety considerations.

The survey analyses could be incorporated into state and local transportation planning processes and calibrations for travel demand modeling.


Web Links to Reports and to the Project website