Highway Statistics 1997

Section VII

INTERNATIONAL

 

This section contains transportation and related data for selected countries. Basic socioeconomic data is provided to establish a framework for the transportation indicators that follow. These include information about each country's network of roadways, ownership and use of roadway vehicles, including the fatalities attributable to those vehicles, and fuel prices. Topics were chosen to correspond with major topics presented elsewhere in this volume. Except as noted, data is for the calendar year 1996, which is the most recent year in which it is available for many countries.

The availability of reliable information was a major consideration in selecting topics; therefore, some useful areas were not covered because of the unavailability of complete and comparable data from an array of countries that could readily be converted to meaningful indicators. Countries were selected, as other developed countries and/or major U.S. trading partners, for comparisons with the U.S. system. Japan, four European countries and our North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) trading partners were chosen as examples of these. Much of the data on the United Kingdom is for Great Britain only, which does not include Northern Ireland. Most U.S. data came from Highway Statistics 1996 or directly from other Federal Highway Administration sources.

Table IN-1 sets forth indicators of social and demographic status for each country, including population, land area, population density, gross domestic product (GDP) and, where available, expenditures for roadways. These are shown for 1996 in order to correspond with the transportation data. The GDP and GDP per capita dollar amount estimates for each country are stated in terms of purchasing power equivalents. This method involves the use of dollar price weights applied to the quantities of goods and services produced by the economy. With this method of conversion, a given sum of dollars in the U.S. will buy the same amount of goods as that same amount, converted to the local currency, will buy in the other country. While population, land area, population density, and GDP vary greatly among the countries, GDP per capita varies only slightly among seven of the eight countries. Mexico is less economically developed than the others and varies from them in all important indicators. Only a limited amount of data is available to address expenditures for roadways. Of that which is available, the percent of GDP consumed on all road expenditures varies considerably while that for new construction is more uniform between countries.

Table IN-2 provides information on roadway systems. Expressways and other main roadways are grouped together under "major roads" while all others are considered "secondary roads." These are only general categories, as the definitions and data collection processes vary from country to country. The tables and accompanying charts show the inverse relationship between the previously displayed population density and miles per population unit for all roads. The correlation with major roads is somewhat less pronounced.

Table IN-3 shows the numbers of several types of vehicles and vehicles per capita. Some countries count only selected populations of trucks, and possibly use varying methods for counting other vehicle types as well. Although all known variations between data are noted in footnotes, it is possible that some were not apparent from the original data sources and so are not noted. The data on automobiles per population unit clearly show the disparity between Mexico and the more developed countries.

Table IN-4 presents a display of the amount and intensity of vehicle usage. The combination in the U.S. of large land area, large population and greater use of motor vehicles creates a total travel figure that is much higher than that of other countries. The average amount of automobile travel per vehicle ranges between the twelve and seventeen thousand kilometers for the European countries, with the U.S. in a higher range and Japan lower. The data on average amount of travel by the various vehicles most likely reflects the types of use of these vehicles. Low mileage buses and trucks may be maintained for single uses while others may reflect high intensity utilization.

Table IN-5 shows fuel costs and the contribution to the economy of the transportation and related sectors. Fuel prices vary widely between countries and reflect full costs including applicable taxes. More than 50 percent of gasoline prices in the European countries can be attributed to taxes. While diesel fuel taxes are less than those on gasoline they are substantial by comparison with those imposed in the United States. The contribution of the transport, storage and communication sectors to the economies is surprisingly uniform for all countries except Mexico and the employment portion for the United States.

Table IN-6 provides fatalities and fatality rates for each country. Of the reporting countries, fatality rates are lowest for the U.K., and highest for France.

USE OF DATA

The data in this section came from reliable published sources which are noted with the individual tables. Ultimately all data came from the source countries. Data collection methods, definitions of terms, and basic political and economic infrastructures vary from country to country. These differences will manifest themselves in many ways within the data items and may not always be apparent. All data in this section should, then, be used with great care and only for general comparisons.

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