The annual vehicle registration date varies
among the States. Although many States continue to register specific
vehicle types on a calendar year basis, all States use some form
of the "staggered" system to register motor vehicles.
The "staggered" system permits a distribution of the
renewal workload throughout all months. Most States allow preregistration
or permit "grace periods" to better distribute the annual
In order to present vehicle registration data
uniformly for all States, the information is shown as nearly as
possible on a calendar-year basis. Insofar as possible, the registrations
reported exclude transfers and reregistrations and any other factors
that could otherwise result in duplication in the vehicle counts.
Registration practices for commercial vehicles
differ greatly among the States. Some States register a tractor-semitrailer
combination as a single unit; others register the tractor and
the semitrailer separately. Regardless of how they were registered,
only the power units have been included in the truck count in
table MV-1. Some States register buses with trucks or automobiles;
many States do not report house and light utility trailers separately
from commercial trailers or semitrailers; and some States do not
require registration of car or light utility trailers. Prior to
the 1994 publication, table MV-1 included personal passenger
vans, passenger minivans, and utility-type vehicles in the category
called Automobiles. Beginning with the 1994 data, these vehicles
are included with trucks. In some instances, the Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) has supplemented the data supplied by the
States with information obtained from other sources. This year's
publication does not include the map showing automobiles per capita;
however, this information is on table MV-1.
Motor-vehicle registrations are reported by
major vehicle classes: automobiles, buses, trucks, and motorcycles.
The truck category includes light trucks to the extent they can
be identified and separated from automobiles. Data on trucks,
buses, trailers, and semitrailers are given in tables MV-9, MV-10,
and MV-11, respectively. Although the detail of motor-vehicle
data has improved in recent years, it is not yet possible to obtain
from all States separate data on single-unit trucks and combinations.
Some States provide data for light trucks and truck tractors,
but for many States, the FHWA estimates this information using
other data sources, such as the Truck Inventory and Use Survey
conducted by the Bureau of the Census. The table MV-9 light truck
category includes pickups, vans (full-size and mini), utility-type
vehicles, as well as other vehicles (panel trucks and delivery
vans generally of 10,000 pounds or less gross vehicle weight).
In publications prior to 1994, personal passenger vans, passenger
minivans and utility-type vehicles were included in automobiles
on table MV-1. Registrations of publicly owned motor vehicles
are reported in table MV-7.
REGISTRATION TAXES AND FEES
Taxes and fees connected with State motor-vehicle
registrations and special taxes on motor carriers are given in
table MV2, and the disposition of these taxes is given
in table MV3. These tables can be found in the highway
finance section. The diversity of taxes and fees collected has
made it necessary to group them into broad general classes, the
most important being registration fees. The amounts shown are
those collected solely as highway-user revenues and do not include
any amounts, such as personal property levies, that are derived
from taxes other than those related to motor-vehicle ownership
and operation. (Although portions of these revenues are later
used in some States for nonhighway purposes, it is the source
rather than the expenditure of the revenues that has determined
their inclusion here.) Motor-vehicle registration fee schedules
(table MV-103) and administrative provisions governing the disposition
of State motor-vehicle and motor-carrier receipts (table MV-106)
appear in a separate FHWA publication entitled Highway Taxes
and Fees, How They Are Collected and Distributed. A comprehensive
comparison of taxes and fees among the States for 14 selected
vehicles can be found in the separate FHWA publication entitled
Road-User and Property Taxes on Selected Vehicles.
USE OF DATA
All State reported data are analyzed by FHWA
for completeness, reasonableness, consistency, and compliance
with data reporting instructions contained in A Guide to Reporting
Highway Statistics. State reported data is adjusted if necessary
to eliminate mistakes and to improve data uniformity among the
States. The analysis and adjustment process is accomplished in
cooperation with the States supplying the data.
Differing State laws and practices can influence
data definitions as to the classification of automobiles and trucks.
In past issues of Highway Statistics, personal passenger
vans, passenger minivans, and utility-type vehicles were aggregated
with automobiles. Because there is a growing interest in these
vehicle types they are shown separately on table MV-9, under the
light truck category.
In addition, FHWA and the National Highway
Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) use different registration
data sources and different vehicle definitions. FHWA requests
that it be provided data specifically identifying the various
types of passenger carrying highway vehicles. For example, the
State reported data is to specify if passenger vans have been
reported as passenger vehicles or light trucks. While a State
may report minivans, station wagons on truck chassis, and utility-type
vehicles as passenger cars to FHWA they are considered trucks
in the NHTSA data.
The FHWA data include all vehicles which have
been registered at any time throughout the calendar year. Data
include vehicles which were retired during the year and vehicles
that were registered in more than one State. In some States,
it is also possible that contrary to the FHWA reporting instructions,
vehicles which have been registered twice in the same State may
be reported as two vehicles. The NHTSA data include only those
vehicles which are registered as of July 1, of the given year
and thus do not include vehicles registered in the last half of
the calendar year or vehicles that may only be registered for
a part of a year such as those for farm use.
The Private and Commercial Automobiles per
Capita map has been eliminated but the data has been included