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Highway Information Quarterly Newsletter

July 2002

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Office of Highway Policy Information - Federal Highway Administration


National Household Travel Survey | Highway Statistics Seminar | NATMEC-2002 | Urban Growth 1990-2000 | HPMS Notes | Motor Fuel Notes | Community of Practice

This edition is in electronic (web) only format.

NHTS logo National Household Travel Survey (NHTS)

How long does the average driver spend behind the wheel each day? What percent of all trips to work are made on weekends? How do the elderly get to the store, the doctor and visits with friends and relatives? The National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the United States Department of Transportation, can answer these and many other questions.

Interviewing for the year long NHTS was completed in early May. Approximately 26,000 U.S. households provided data on their travel for the national-level survey, with another 40,000 households participating in the survey component that is sponsored by five states and four MPOs.

The survey collects information on the full continuum of travel - from trips across the street to those across the country. Information on trip purpose, mode used, trip length, number on trip, time of day, day of week, as well as information on demographics such as income, race, gender, etc. will be included in the NHTS dataset.

The NHTS serves as the primary source of quantitative data on the travel behavior of the American public. Data from the survey will be used to investigate topics in transportation safety, the mobility of various population groups, congestion, the relationship of personal travel to economic productivity, the impact of travel on the human and natural environment, and the use of each transportation mode by trip purpose, trip length and other characteristics. The NHTS data will aid as a resource in addressing issues arising in surface transportation reauthorization.

The NHTS updates two DOT surveys previously conducted in 1995, the (Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey and the American Travel Survey). The survey is sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The public-use dataset from the 2001/2002 NHTS will be available in January 2003. For more information on the survey, the methods used, questionnaire content and other information:

Highway Statistics Seminar

The annual Highway Statistics Seminar of the Office of Highway Policy Information is scheduled for November 5 - 7 2002, at the Ballston Holiday Inn, 4610 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

The Seminar provides FHWA and State / MPO data providers the opportunity to address issues related to the Highway Statistics reported to FHWA on motor fuel, highway finance, the HPMS, traffic and other data issues.

The Seminar also allows for special focus workshops to allow participants to share their concerns and questions, and provide in-depth information on the Highway Statistics reporting. This is a great opportunity to share experiences with other data providers, and gain insight into the yearly Highway Statistics reporting procedure each year.

If you are interested in attending or would like more information on the upcoming Highway Statistics Seminar, contact Sharon.Smith@fhwa.dot.gov or call 202-366-0170.


The Florida DOT hosted the 2002 North American Travel Monitoring Exhibition and Conference (NATMEC) on May 12-16, 2002, in Orlando, Florida. This was held in conjunction with the 3rd International Conference on Weigh-in-Motion (ICWIM3) and the TRB Data Committees' mid-year meetings. By all accounts, it was a very successful conference.

Over 500 people attended from local, State, and Federal agencies plus academics, consultants, and vendors. ICWIM3 hosted attendees from 20 countries. They heard 160 presentations during 22 sessions. A poster session allowing participants to exchange experiences on specific projects generated plenty of discussion. There were also 40 exhibits and several equipment demos.

The FHWA Executive Director, Bud Wright, delivered the keynote address. NATMEC sessions were organized into three tracks: data collection, data management, and freight/ITS. There was a combined session on ITS and data. The proceedings on CD will be available later this year.


Urban Growth 1990 - 2000

Population (1000)
Miles (1000)
Lane miles (1000)
Land area (1000)
DVMT (1000)
% Change

Between 1990 and 2000, there was significant growth in the Nation's urban and urbanized areas. Due to the adjustment of urban boundaries precipitated by the 1990 census, figures for population, road supply, and urban travel show large increases. With a nearly 27% increase in the area covered by the Nation's urban and urbanized areas, increases in highways appear to be significantly larger than population growth, as large expanses of low density suburban areas were added to the urban category. However, growth in urban travel far exceeded both the growth in population and the supply of highways as measured by lane-miles from 1990 to 2000.

HPMS Notes

Community Of Practice (COP) web site for Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) is Alive and Well

The Community of Practice (COP) web site for HPMS has been updated, reflecting current information on best practices and data reporting activities. Communities of practice are networks of people with mutual interests, goals or expertise working together (often in a virtual environment) to share knowledge, collaborate on work, and advance the state-of-the-art. The benefits are knowledge flows across geographic or organizational barriers to solve problems, improve processes, speed results, and better serve customers and partners. Anyone can visit and participate allowing the user to become a participant within a virtual community of other interested professional that have chosen to offer their expertise as a resource to the community. You can periodically monitor the discussion and provide appropriate input.

The benefits of sharing our vast knowledge about HPMS with our fellow peers cannot be understated. Some of us have developed valuable and irreplaceable expertise over time that can be of great value to those with either less experience or having frustrations in providing quality and timely HPMS data. We thank those who have already participated and encourage others to make maximum use of this valuable communication tool for the HPMS Community.

We encourage you to access the COP at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/hpmspage.htm and click on either the HPMS Discussion Group or the HPMS Community of Practice section. Please feel free to add your comments and experiences related to these activities. Recently updated and new entries in the "Reference" and "Works in Progress" sections are: IRI Data and Roadway Inventory Automated Collection Procedures, an update to the Questions and Answers, Appendix N updated in the HPMS Field Manual, Corrections to the Computer Based Training (CBT) program, and Archived COP Discussions. For further information, please contact Fred.Orloski@fhwa.dot.gov or call 517-702-1840.

HPMS Issues Workshop - August 27-28, Chicago

An HPMS issues workshop is scheduled for August 27 and 28 in Chicago with the theme of Establishing Best Practices. A separate half day session for FHWA staff only is planned for the afternoon of August 26. The workshop is intended to provide an opportunity for data providers to discuss common problems and share solutions to the HPMS reporting issues they are facing. The format will be an open discussion of items of interest to the participants interspersed with topic related presentations from States and FHWA. Each state will be asked to provide a status report on significant HPMS activities in their state and to participate in breakout sessions providing feedback and recommendations to FHWA.

For further information on the seminar please contact Fred.Orloski@fhwa.dot.gov or call 517-702-1840.

Motor Fuel Notes

States Report Slight Increase in 2001

Gasoline consumption based on reports of 35 States for January 2001 through December 2001 shows an increase by 0.9 percent compared to the same period in 2000. When the latest reports for all States are considered, the 2001 increase is 1.5 percent. During this period, vehicle-miles of travel increased by 1.0 percent.

The gasoline volumes are cumulative tabulations of gross volume reported by wholesale distributors to State motor fuel tax agencies. It includes highway use, non-highway use, and losses.

This data can be found in the Monthly Motor Fuel Reported by States on the Office of Highway Policy Information Website. If you have any questions, contact Marsha.Reynolds@fhwa.dot.gov or call Marsha at 202-366-5029.

Smart Tool

Following successful training sessions in February and March 2000, 19 States are using the motor-fuel "Smart Tool". This new tool provides an electronic, web-based, and error-free mechanism for State motor fuel data submittals. Beginning with calendar year 2002 data, FHWA is asking that the States use the motor-fuel "smart tool" in place of paper or electronic template FHWA Form 551. For more information, contact Marsha.Reynolds@fhwa.dot.gov or call 202-366-5029.

A "Smart Tool" is also being developed to replace current FHWA Highway Finance Forms 531 and 532. Tool development work is underway. It is anticipated that a prototype will be ready for piloting late Summer 02. The tool, which will have many of the features of the Motor fuel "Smart Tool", will be ready in time for State submittals of Highway Finance data for Highway Statistics 2002. A few slots for States to pilot this tool are still available. For more information, contact Carla.Mauney@fhwa.dot.gov or call 202-366-0170.

Community of Practice (Highway Community Exchange)

FHWA's Office of Highway Policy Information has established Internet accessible Communities of Practice (CoP's) to support stakeholder dialogue on:

CoP's are networks of people with mutual interests, goals or expertise working together to exchange ideas and information, share and collaborate on projects, speed technology transfer, identify best practices, and advance the state-of-the-art in their fields. CoP's cut across organizational and geographic boundaries.

The Highway Performance Monitoring System CoP is dedicated to the open exchange of information and knowledge on all things related to HPMS. This forum allows anyone interested in HPMS to interact on any number of HPMS issues and to assist others in acquiring knowledge from an array of HPMS professionals throughout the country.

The Travel Monitoring CoP supports knowledge sharing related to the collection, editing, analysis and archiving of traffic counts, vehicle classification and weigh-in-motion data.

The Motor Fuel / Highway Trust Fund Attribution CoP supports knowledge sharing on collection and analysis of motor fuel and associated highway trust fund attribution. This will allow interested parties to share on issues related to motor fuel and attribution.

Each of the CoP's supports The Works in Progress section is where the site administrator places draft papers, statements, and plans for review. You can comment and/or suggest revisions to each document. At the Discussion section, you can submit general comments or start a new discussion. If you wish to attach a document with your comments and suggestions, please contact the site administrator. At the Directory, you will find contact information for all identified users. The Reference section contains background papers, reports, and other documents. You can choose to view this information with your browser or download information to your computer for later use.

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