Vehicle traffic exposure: facts & figures

Indicators on this page estimate traffic exposure for Minnesotans living within 300 meters (m) of busy roads, where air pollution from motor vehicle traffic is highest. Busy roads are roadway segments that have annual average daily traffic counts above 10,000 cars or trucks. Learn more about how these indicators were calculated.

One in three Minnesotans live near busy roads

Living near busy roads comes with many traffic-related exposures, such as air pollution, noise, and dangerous intersections. It can even lower property values, impacting people’s well-being. Measuring the number and percent of people living near busy roads is one way to estimate and compare traffic exposure across communities.

Minnesotans living near busy roads, by census tract (2014)

Source: MN Department of Transportation (1999-2014); American Community Survey 5-year census tract estimates (2010-2014).
Source: MN Department of Transportation (1999-2014); American Community Survey 5-year census tract estimates (2010-2014).

In almost half of Minnesota’s 1,328 census tracts, less than 20 percent of residents live near busy roads. Highest rates of traffic exposure, where more than 60 percent of residents live near busy roads, impact about 10 percent of Minnesota census tracts. Most of these tracts are located in the Twin Cities metro area.

There are socioeconomic disparities in traffic exposure

On average, census tracts where more than 20 percent of residents live at or below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) have the highest traffic exposure across Minnesota communities. On average, about 50 percent of people living in high poverty census tracts live within 300 m of busy roads, compared to about 27 percent in low poverty census tracts.

Minnesota traffic exposure, by poverty rate

Source: MN Department of Transportation (1999-2014); American Community Survey 5-year census tract estimates (2010-2014). Learn more about poverty categories in About the data.
Source: MN Department of Transportation (1999-2014); American Community Survey 5-year census tract estimates (2010-2014). Learn more about poverty categories in About the data.