crosswalk with people walking and biking

Tool | 2024

Smarter MODES Calculator: Smarter Mobility Options for Decarbonization, Equity, and Safety

RMI’s Smarter MODES Calculator helps states quantify the emissions, health, and cost savings benefits of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction strategies that expand transportation options and complement vehicle electrification.

By Miguel MoravecJackie LombardiBryn GrunwaldRyan WarsingDrew Veysey
Download the report below

State decision makers in the United States are increasingly considering novel strategies to reduce climate pollution from the transportation sector, which remains the largest share of US emissions. Most transportation pollution is due to tailpipe emissions from light-duty vehicles, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), underscoring the importance of both electrifying vehicles and expanding alternative transportation options.

RMI’s Smarter MODES Calculator (Smarter Mobility Options for Decarbonization, Equity, and Safety) enables states to quantify the emissions, health, and cost savings benefits of pursuing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction as a complementary strategy to vehicle electrification. VMT reduction occurs when people have convenient and accessible options to get around by transit, active transportation modes such as walking and biking, or other non-car methods of transportation, thereby reducing the amount they need to drive.

This calculator explores how combinations of vehicle electrification and VMT reduction can reduce pollution from the transportation sector, improve health and safety, avoid costs, and optimize power generation as compared to business-as-usual (BAU) policies in all 50 US states.

Given 1) a state, 2) an electrification scenario, and 3) a VMT reduction scenario, the calculator estimates the following avoided events and their associated savings:

  • Avoided tailpipe and charging emissions
  • Avoided automobile operations costs
  • Safety benefits (i.e., avoided crash fatalities and injuries)
  • Health benefit from physical activity (i.e., avoided inactivity fatalities)
  • Health benefit from cleaner air (i.e., avoided air pollution fatalities)
  • Avoided congestion time and costs

This calculator contains state-specific and national data. Its results may inform long-term program planning, particularly when estimating the potential benefits, or “size-of-the-prize” for reducing climate pollution and expanding transportation options in a given state.

See our methodology and detailed instructions for using the calculator here and in the "Introduction" tab of the calculator. Please direct all questions to and


RMI would like to thank the following organizations for reviewing the calculator and providing valuable input and feedback:

  • Ecology Center
  • Georgetown Climate Center
  • Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)
  • Move LA
  • National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL)
  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • NextGen Policy
  • Rails to Trails Conservancy
  • Sierra Club
  • Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)
  • Southern Environmental Law Center
  • State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI)
  • TransitCenter
  • Transportation for America
  • Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
  • Victoria Transport Policy Institute