Beep, beeeeeeep! That's the sound of an angry driver stuck in a traffic jam, quite possibly blaming the holdup at a nearby intersection on residents of a new apartment community. But that would be some misdirected anger: Data from the latest American Housing Survey nixes the common belief that new rental properties increase traffic congestion and parking problems.

Apartment households on average own 1 vehicle, compared with 2.1 vehicles for a single-family owner. And almost 27 percent of apartment households have no vehicle at all, while 73 percent of their single-family counterparts own at least two. These statistics show that multifamily housing is a smart option as the country looks for ways to house its growing population without exacerbating its traffic problems, says Mark Obrinsky, NMHC's vice president of research and chief economist. (The U.S. population is expected to grow by 68 million people in the next 20 years.)

Interestingly, the survey shows that even when single-family owners have access to public transportation, they are less likely to use it. Less than 12 percent of homeowners with access to public transportation use it at least once a week, compared with 30 percent of renters.

DRIVER'S SEAT The average number of vehicles owned per household is greater for single family homes than apartments.

Source: NMHC tabulations of 2005 American Housing Survey data