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Office of Highway Policy Information

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Highway Information Seminar Workshop – Presentations – Office of Highway Policy Information (OHPI)



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Motor-Vehicle Registrations/ Driver Licenses

State Reporting

  • Required by the Code of Federal Regulations:
    • Part 420 – Planning and Research Program Administration
    • Subpart A – Administration of FHWA Planning and Research Funds 420.105 Policy
    • OMB approval under control numbers 2125-0028 and 2125-0032
  • Data required for evaluating the Nation's transportation systems:
    • Extent
    • Performance
    • Condition
    • Use


Motor-Vehicle Registrations and Driver Licenses Smart System


Why the Smart System is Needed

  • Prior procedures outmoded years ago
  • Developed to meet E-GOV requirements
  • Performs automated data checks to reduce human intervention
  • Improves:
    • Accuracy
    • Consistency
  • Eliminate redundant data
  • Paperwork reduction


Benefits Provided – I

  • Provides one procedure for State reporting:
    • Consistent
    • Coherent
  • Reduces labor costs:
    • FHWA
    • State
  • Developed to meet E-GOV objectives


Benefits Provided – II

  • Performs checks on the reported data:
    • Tests internal consistency
    • Helps catch errors early
  • Specific tests:
    • Mathematical errors
    • Non-matching totals
    • Blank cells with only grand totals entered
    • Large changes in the data from one year to the next
    • Avoids States creating their own forms


Smart System Used for 2009 Reporting

  • States Used Smart Form – 13 States
  • Partial Use – 2 States ('561, '566 and '571 only)
  • Partial Use – 1 State ('566 only).




How the Data is Used

  • Provides basic measures of highway use:
    • Annual data
    • Historical data
  • Provides data for analytical purposes:
    • The denominator for safety exposure calculations (e.g., fatalities per million ___)
    • Drivers age/gender correlation to crash rates
    • Vehicle fleet fuel efficiency
    • Miles of travel per vehicle


How the Data is Used

  • Input to other agencies:
    • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    • National Transportation Safety Board
    • Energy Information Agency
    • Environment Protection Agency
    • Bureau of Labor Statistics
    • Federal Bureau of Investigations
    • Bureau of Transportation Statistics
    • Government Accountability Office


Data Users

  • Congress
  • Government Agencies:
    • Federal
    • State
    • County
    • Municipal
  • Private sector/business
  • Educational institutions
  • Libraries
  • Students
  • Citizens
  • Other countries


Motor Vehicle Registrations
  (Forms FHWA-561, 566 and 571)

  • State provided data
  • Number of vehicles registered for highway use:
    • By vehicle type:
      • Automobiles
      • Buses
      • Trucks
      • Motorcycles
  • Revenue generated from registration fees
  • Standard measure of vehicles licensed for use on the highways


Typical Procedures

  • States report annually
  • Data is:
    • Reviewed
    • Analyzed
      • Adjusted for specific State limitations
      • Refined into more detailed categories
      • Readied for publication
  • Published
    • Series of Tables in Highway Statistics
    • Provided to other agencies for further uses



  • Adjustments:
    • Definitions – One of the major obstacles in compiling accurate vehicle registration data is inconsistent vehicle registration. Different States have different parameters in the definitions which lead to irregularities among categories. For example, some States register light trucks by weight rather than by type.
    • Re-registrations – Vehicle re-registration in different States as a change in ownership are hard to tract. A problem compounded by varying registration cycles among States.
    • Multi-Year Registrations – Registration cycles are different. Example: 1 year cycle vs. a 4 year cycle.
  • Estimates
    • Buses – Most commercial businesses will register buses in the State the company is headquartered but the buses are operated in another State.
    • Truck Tractors – Estimates are made on a State-by-State basis. TT counts are based on Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS).
    • Trailers – Most States only report total trailers. Need breakdown (Commercial, House, and Small).
    • State, County, and Municipal Vehicles – Only total reported by State.
    • Light Trucks – Only total reported by State. Need breakdown (pickups, vans, sport utility vehicles and other light vehicles)
    • Incomplete and/or Missing Data – Self-explanatory


Drivers License Data
  Form FHWA-562

  • State provided data
  • Number of drivers licenses issued by:
    • Gender
    • Age
  • Revenue generated from license fees
  • Standard measure of citizens with driving privileges



  • Other kinds of permits and or licenses to be included are learner permits, licenses issued solely for the operation of motorcycles, scooters, or mopeds.
  • States have some form of graduated licensing for teenage drivers.
  • Thus, to improve driver licenses data quality the definition of "teenage driver" changed.
  • Less than 19 States provided the data for graduated licenses for teenage drivers for 2009.
  • Therefore, there well may be approximately over 8 million 14- and 15-year olds not accounted for.


Form FHWA-562
  Incomplete Age Groups

  • 23 Years and 24 Years – 1 State
  • 75 years and over – 2 States
  • 80 years and over – 2 States
  • 85 years and over – 1 State
  • Therefore, FHWA must estimate by redistributing State's reported data based on the Census population.


Contact – Driver Licenses

Dawn Edwards
(202) 366-4048


Thank You

Page last modified on November 7, 2014.
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000