Volume 5, No. 4

December 1998

Office of Highway Information Management

Washington, D.C.

(202) 366-0180

HPMS Reassessment Results to be Announced at January TRB Annual Meeting

Over the past year, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has completed the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) reassessment process. Gloria Jeff will formally announce the final HPMS reassessment recommendations and implementation plan at the Transportation Research Board's (TRB) annual meeting in January 1999. A draft final report was posted on the Internet for comment in October 1998; the final report will be published in time for the TRB. The final report will also be made available on the Internet at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi/.

The revised HPMS will better serve future business needs of the agency. These include the reporting of conditions and performance of the Nation's highways to Congress, the development of performance indicators in support of the agency's strategic and performance plans, and the provision of more accurate data for use in meeting the fund apportionment requirements of Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). In this report, FHWA recommends several notable changes to the HPMS. Fifteen percent of the data items are being eliminated and another 15 percent are being changed to significantly reduce the number of detail lines; sample size reductions are proposed; and, the summary of crash data by functional system is being eliminated. Other details can be found in the report at the Internet address noted above. Overall, the changes are expected to result in a meaningful reduction in data burden for data providers while still meeting the stated HPMS goals and objectives, FHWA's business needs, and our partners' and customers' information needs.

Implementation workshops are planned for the first calendar quarter of 1999; implementation guidance will be made available to HPMS data providers prior to the workshops. The changes to the HPMS will take effect with the submittal of 1999 data in June 2000. For further information, contact James Getzewich at telephone (202)366-0175 or E-mail jim.getzewich@fhwa.dot.gov.

FHWA Begins Cooperative Federal/State Fuel Reporting Review Effort

In cooperation with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Federation of Tax Administrators, the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Office of Highway Information Management (OHIM) is undertaking a review of its current motor-fuel data reporting structure and issues. A group of representatives from about 10 States, including Revenue and Transportation Departments, FHWA field and Headquarters staff, and others will participate in this effort. The group's first meeting is planned for December 10-11, 1998, in Washington, D.C. Nicholas Graf, FHWA's North Carolina Division Administrator, is chairing this group.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) makes greater use of highway information, including state-reported motor-fuel consumption and related Highway Trust Fund contributions in apportioning Federal-aid funds to the States. By addressing several reporting issues, the group will assist States and FHWA to improve the accuracy, consistency, and overall quality of State-reported motor-fuel gallonage data and related tax receipts.

A background paper on the group's work was posted on the OHIM web at http://www.fhwa.gov/policy/ohpi/, under "What's New." Comments on the paper are welcome. More information can be obtained by calling Ralph Erickson on (202) 366-9235.

Report on Part-Time Workers Available

The report, "Equitable Transportation Access in the Journey to Work for Part-time Workers," has been completed by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. This report uses 1990 Census Public-Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) for a nationwide analysis. This analysis is possible because the 1990 Census questionnaire included a question on the number of hours worked last week.

The report found that:

Blue Dot Women dominate the part-time work force. Of the 22.7 million part-time workers in 1990, 14.6 million (64 percent) were women and 8.1 million (36 percent) were men.
Blue Dot There are striking differences in the age distribution of part-time workers by age and gender. Men working part-time are mostly teenagers, and those over age 65. Women part-time workers, on the other hand, are concentrated in the middle working years, ages 30-60.

Figure 1
Figure 1

Blue Dot Part-time workers are much more likely to depart for work in the afternoon, thus making it much more difficult to use alternatives to private vehicles. Twenty-five percent of part-time workers depart for work between Noon and 6 p.m., compared to only 6 percent of full-time workers.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Blue Dot Because they work part-time, long travel times carry a higher cost (per hour of work) than for full-time workers and, as a result, private vehicles are a more desirable mode of transport.

A copy of the full report is on the Web at: http://www.fhwa.dot/gov/policy/ohpi/.

Usage and Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT) per Capita

Personal vehicle travel in the United States has grown dramatically since 1966. In 1966, total travel was 869 billion vehicle miles (1,399 billion kilometers (km) for automobiles and light trucks. Travel in these vehicle types rose to 2,293 billion vehicle miles (3,692 billion km) by 1996, an increase of 164 percent (see Table 1 below). As shown in Figure 3, vehicle miles per person in the United States rose by 95 percent from 1966 to 1996. Meanwhile, the change in fuel usage per capita has remained relatively stable from 1980 to 1996, after an increase prior to that period.

Table 1

Selected Years Vehicle Travel (Billion Miles) Fuel Usage (billion gallons) Fleet Fuel Efficiency (miles per gallon) Population (millions) Vehicle Travel (miles per person) Fuel Usage (gallons per person)
1966 869 64 13.5 196 4,443 329
1978 1,433 105 13.7 222 6,453 473
1980 1,413 94 15.0 227 6,217 414
2,017 103 19.6 252 8,000 407
1996 2,293 116 19.7 265 8,643 438

In 1966, passenger cars and light trucks consumed 64 billion gallons (243 billion liters (L)) of fuel. By 1996, these types of vehicles consumed 116 billion gallons (439 billion L), an increase of 80 percent. The resident population in the U.S. was 196 million in 1966 according to census figures. U.S. population rose to 265 million by 1996, an increase of 36 percent. At the same time, annual fuel usage per capita rose from 329 gallons (1,245 L) in 1966 to 438 gallons (1,658 L) in 1996, increasing by 33 percent.

Since 1980, fuel usage per capita has risen only 6 percent. During the same time, distance traveled per capita has risen 39 percent. This can largely be attributed to an increase in fleet fuel efficiency in that period. In 1966, automobiles and light trucks obtained 13.5 miles per gallon (MPG) or 5.7 km per liter (KPL). By 1996, that efficiency had grown to 19.7 MPG (8.4 KPL), an increase of 46 percent. In the 13 years from 1966 to 1978, MPG only improved by 0.2 MPG (0.1 KPL). The 14 years from 1978 to 1991 saw a tremendous increase in fuel efficiency. MPG increased from 13.7 to 19.6 MPG (5.8 to 8.3 KPL) or 44 percent. This validates the rapid increase in travel and the corresponding leveling off of fuel usage as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Since 1991, fuel efficiency has leveled while travel continues to rise. This has the effect of causing fuel usage per capita to increase by nearly 8 percent from 1991 to 1996. This compares to an actual decrease of 14 percent in fuel usage per capita from 1978 to 1991.

The sources for the travel and fuel data can be found in Highway Statistics Tables VM-1, VM-201, and VM-201A on the Office of Highway Information Management (OHIM) web site at www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim. For additional information, contact William Grush at telephone (202) 366-5052 or E-mail William.Grush@fhwa.dot.gov.

NPTS Symposium Proceedings Available

A new report covering results of the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) symposium has been released in the "Searching for Solutions" policy series. At the October 1997 symposium, results from the 1995 NPTS were discussed and policy implications were debated. Key findings included:

  1. The vehicle fleet mix continues to change. It is older now, and has many more light trucks and sport utility vehicles. This has significant impacts for air quality analysis.

  2. Persons in low-income households travel 40 percent fewer miles than people in other households. About 25 percent of low-income households have no car, compared to 4 percent of other households. Because a high proportion of trips are made by walking, accessibility to jobs and services is more limited than for other groups.

  3. The baby-boom generation is aging. Many of this group have grown up and raised families in suburban areas, and most men and women have driver's licenses. How this cohort will differ from previous aging populations is a key component for future travel forecasts and safety exposure.

  4. Although the NPTS shows saturation in vehicle ownership (per household), there is no indication of a maximum threshold of daily travel in terms of vehicle miles of travel (VMT). Even population groups who typically have high daily VMT continued to show increasing daily VMT from previous surveys.

To order a copy of the report, "Searching for Solutions," contact the Federal Highway Administration's R&T Report Center at (301) 577-0906, and ask for report FHWA-PL-99-003. An electronic version will be available on our OHIM Website, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi/ under "What's New?"

NPTS Website: http://www-cta.ornl.gov/npts

The next conference focusing on personal or household travel will be "Personal Travel: The Long and Short of It," covering both daily travel as captured by the NPTS, and long distance travel, as captured by the American Travel Survey. The conference will be held from June 28 through July 1, 1999, at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference is sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and the Transportation Research Board (TRB). For more information about the next conference, please call Tom Palmerlee, TRB, at (202) 334-2907, or Nancy McGuckin, FHWA, at (202) 366-8750. The finalized conference program will be posted on the OHIM Website, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi/ as soon as it is available.

Second European Conference on WIM of Road Vehicles, Lisbon, Portugal

Ralph Gillmann of the Office of Highway Information Management's (OHIM) Travel Monitoring Division attended the Second European Conference on Weigh-in-Motion (WIM) of Road Vehicles. The conference was held in Lisbon, Portugal, on September 14-16, 1998. He participated in a panel discussion led by Jean-François Coste, Secretary General of the World Road Association (PIARC).

The conference was sponsored by "COST323" which is a European Commission working group representing road research agencies and focuses on WIM research, standardization, and testing. It was attended by about 160 people representing various European and other countries. The Portuguese road authority, Junta Autónoma de Estradas (JAE), hosted the conference.

In addition to about 50 technical presentations and "pre-proceedings," which included full papers, there was also an exhibition of 10 vendors plus a poster session (including a poster by Bill McCall, Iowa State University, on the States' Successful Practices WIM Handbook, a project sponsored by OHIM).

After the conference, Mr. Gillmann participated in a meeting regarding the continuation and expansion of international cooperation in WIM research and standards. It is hoped that the World Road Association will become the sponsoring organization for this initiative.

For additional information, contact Ralph Gillmann, telephone (202) 366-5042, or E-Mail Ralph.Gillmann@fhwa.dot.gov.

Highest Traveled Public Roads in the United States

The table below shows the estimated mileage of public roads with an average daily traffic volume of 10,000 or more vehicles. In 1997, about 151,030 miles ( 3.8 percent) of the total public roads operated at a level in excess of 10,000 vehicles a day; this is up from 2.5 percent in 1982. About two-thirds of these highest traveled public roads are in urban areas (places of 5,000 or more persons) and 4,390 miles of these roads carried over 100,000 vehicles a day. For more information on this subject, contact Paul Svercl, HPM-20, at telephone (202) 366-5036 or E-mail paul.svercl@fhwa.dot.gov.

Table 2

Estimated Mileage of Highest Traveled Public Roads

Functional System 1982 1987 1992 1997


Interstate 19,872 19,337 21,970 24,361
Other Principal Arterial 7,240 9,464 13,533 17,463
Minor Arterial 3,002 4,326 4,782 5,765
Major Collector 1,531 2,661 2,843 2,440
Minor Collector 54 86 125 125
Subtotal 31,699 35,874 43,253 50,154


Interstate 9,581 11,217 12,466 13,396
Other Frywys & Expways 5,546 6,510 7,646 8,449
Other Principal Arterials 28,374 34,034 37,163 41,315
Minor Arterials 16,981 22,731 26,309 31,160
Collector 3,310 4,483 5,840 6,556
Subtotal 63,792 78,975 89,424 100,876
All Systems 95,491 114,849 132,677 151,030

Distribution of Our Nation's Highways to the American Automobile Association (AAA)

The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Office of Highway Information Management (OHIM) has undertaken a customer outreach activity with AAA as a product delivery partner. This project is an effort to improve outreach and communication with the general public as well as meeting our customer needs.

More than 8,000 copies were distributed to AAA's National Clubs to be circulated to their members in each State. One of AAA's missions is to provide easy access to more high-quality products and services than ever before.

Our Nation's Highways is a condensed overview of facts and figures regarding highway condition and performance, the U.S. Vehicle Fleet, motor-fuel use, travel, financing our highways, and other data of interest.

To obtain a copy and/or have your name placed on the mailing list, call (202)366-0160. The report is available for review and downloading from our Internet site, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim.

For additional information, contact Gloria Williams, HPM-40, by telephone (202) 366-5032, or E-mail gloria.williams@fhwa.dot.gov.

HPMS Data Quality Improvement Program

As a part of implementing the results of the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) reassessment effort, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is undertaking a program to improve the quality of data items being provided by State DOTs, MPOs, and other supporting agencies. With HPMS data being utilized by a wider variety of customers and the increased use of HPMS data for apportioning Federal-aid highway funds as a result of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), the need for improving HPMS data quality is now more important than ever before.

The FHWA has formed a Data Quality Working Group to assist in developing a quality improvement program. The Data Quality Working Group consists of FHWA field staff involved in the review of the quality of HPMS data, FHWA Headquarters personnel working in the day-to-day management of the HPMS in the Highway Systems Performance Division (HPM-20), and other FHWA field office personnel with experience in other FHWA quality program efforts.

FHWA is beginning the process by identifying which issues in the development and review of HPMS data in the field and Headquarters should be explored further from a quality improvement perspective. Part of the focus of the data quality improvement program will be on determining ways to improve the quality of HPMS data items; another part will focus on further demonstrating the utility of quality HPMS data to a variety of users and providers. FHWA also will be working closely with the HPMS Steering Committee to obtain input and feedback as the data quality improvement program develops.

For more information or suggestions, contact Rick Backlund at (202) 366-5035 or E-mail Richard.Backlund@fhwa.dot.gov.

Highway Statistics 1997 Publication

Highway Statistics 1997 is on its way to the printer and should be distributed by mid- December. The fine tuning of Highway Statistics is ongoing as we try to meet the demands of the transportation data users. Shown below are the significant changes to the annual report this year:

Highway Finance: Table FE-221 has been revised and now also shows the minimum guarantee analysis in the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21). Table FA-4E shows the factors used in the apportionment of Federal-aid funds to the States.

Roadway Extent, Characteristics, and Performance: Table HM-45 has been deleted. Table HM-46 has been deleted; the data are available in tables HM-20, HM-60, VM-2, and in the new apportionment table—FA-4E. Table HM-48 is now in the same format as its companion tables—HM-15 and VM-3. Table HM-67 has been deleted; surface-type data are now included in table HM-51.

International: Data from Chile has been added to some of the tables and charts.

1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey: A section with pertinent charts dealing with trip chaining, use of older vehicles, and annual miles of travel by driver's age from the Survey has been added to this issue.

The electronic version at the OHIM Home Site houses the annual series from 1994 through present along with the historical data contained in Highway Statistics Summary to1995. The tables are in portable document format (.pdf) and can be downloaded for use in spreadsheets.

If you need further information on this publication, please contact Mary K. Teets at telephone (202) 366-9211 or E-mail Mary.Teets@fhwa.dot.gov.

FHWA Republishes Trust Fund Attribution Paper

In an August 10, 1998, Highway Information Update (Vol. 3, No. 1), FHWA's Office of Highway Information Management (OHIM) republished the methodology it uses to attribute estimated Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund payments to the States.

To a far greater degree than before, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) (Public Law 105-178), makes greater use of highway information, including State-reported motor-fuel and related trust fund contributions, in apportioning Federal funds to the States. TEA-21 calls for the use of trust fund contributions in apportioning 35 percent of the Surface Transportation Funds. One-third of the Interstate Maintenance funds are distributed based on Highway Account contributions by commercial vehicles, that is, contributions resulting from diesel fuel tax, truck tire tax, truck and trailer retail sales, and heavy vehicle-use tax. Also, Highway Account contributions are used in the computation of Minimum Guarantee. The States' shares of certain apportionments specified in TEA-21 are used to ensure that each State receives at least 90.5 percent of its percentage contribution to the Highway Account. Important modeling research supports motor-fuel consumption estimates where States cannot furnish accurate and timely data.

The methodology appears in a Highway Information Update and can be accessed under FHWA's OHIM web site at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi under "What's New." FHWA's initial policy statement on this methodology was initially published in a Federal Register notice/Vol. 50/No. 120 --June 21, 1985. To obtain a copy of this notice, please call (202) 366-0170. Questions on this topic may be directed to Ralph Erickson, HPM-10, on (202) 366-9235.

VTRIS Upgrade

The Vehicle Travel Information System (VTRIS), used by both FHWA and many States to process weigh-in-motion (WIM) data which is submitted for theTruck Weight Study, has been upgraded to a 32-bit application. VTRIS had been developed with the 16-bit FoxPro 2.6 which is no longer supported. It has been upgraded with Visual FoxPro which is designed for Windows 95, 98 and NT. Improvements include faster performance, which is important considering that WIM data files are very large, and a more uniform appearance of the screens and reports.

For additional information about VTRIS, contact David Jones, HPM-30, at (202) 366-5053, or E-mail David.Jones@fhwa.dot.gov.

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