Evaluating the Effectiveness of a School-based Intervention on Driving-related Carbon Emissions Using Real-time Transportation Data

Driving is one of the largest contributors to California’s greenhouse gas emissions and a major source of pollutants contributing to air quality concerns. Various strategies have been employed to reduce emissions including educational programs that encourage behaviors such as public transit use, carpooling and the adoption of lower emission vehicles. One strategy that has not been well tested is implementing school-based education programs where students act as change makers to encourage change in their own families. The educational program proposed here seeks to develop a driving tool that helps students monitor and track the driving patterns and behaviors of their family. This tool will be used in conjunction with a six-week curriculum on transportation in Grade 7, to understand the impact that such a tool can have on a) family driving patterns and b) student attitudes about driving behavior. The list of activities to be completed includes a) creating the driving measurement tool, b) creating the standards-based curriculum and c) piloting the curriculum and the driving measurement tool in two schools. The driving measurement tool will use existing smart phone technology and apps that already measure and score driving behavior (i.e., Driveway.ai or Automatic.com) to gather real-time data using a platform we create for the teachers and students to use. The educational curriculum will build on existing materials that we have already developed through the Green Ninja initiative at SJSU. The implementation will be tested in two Bay Area schools using established school networks. This intervention is designed around a similar class of tool used for energy conservation behavior in the home, which has demonstrated reductions of 10% in electricity and natural gas use in the homes of participating students. Should similar results be achieved in the proposed research, we expect that not only will student attitudes and understanding improve about methods to reduce transportation-related carbon emissions but also we will see a) verifiable reductions in the number of miles driven by student families and b) verifiable reductions in the number of hard accelerations and hard braking events. Should such outcomes be achieved, we anticipate further interest in developing educational programs that can leverage existing real-time data to reduce transportation-related carbon emissions.


Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
San José State University

Principal Investigator: 

Eugene Cordero, Ph.D.

PI Contact Information: 

Mineta Transportation Institute
San José State University
210 N. 4th St., 4th Floor
San José, CA 95112

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

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology – $69,986.67

Total Project Cost: 


Agency ID or Contract Number: 



January 2018 to December 2018

Project Number: