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Public Roads - November/December 2011

November/December 2011
Issue No:
Vol. 75 No. 3
Publication Number:
Table of Contents

Guest Editorial

A Home for Highway Statistics

edit1Have you ever wondered how much travel occurs on the Nation's highways? And how many gallons of gasoline are consumed annually for highway travel, and the amount of revenue the tax on those gallons contributes to the Highway Trust Fund? Information on these topics and so much more is available in the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) annual publication Highway Statistics. Before the end of this year, FHWA's Office of Highway Policy Information will produce the 66th edition of Highway Statistics, making it one of the longest running, continuously published agency documents.

Highway Statistics serves as a comprehensive portal for data and information on many areas the agency is involved with. The highway community can query and analyze the publication's data and information through a wide range of supporting databases and analytical tools. One example is the production of the apportionment factors for the annual Highway Trust Fund. Without a doubt, the apportionment factors are one of FHWA's most important data products. The programs apportioned by these factors total more than $28 billion annually.

Other examples of publications produced by FHWA's Office of Highway Policy Information are the monthly reports Traffic Volume Trends and Monthly Motor Fuel Reported by States; both are widely used throughout the transportation community. These reports serve as the barometers on national travel demand and revenue collection. For more on Highway Statistics and other data products from FHWA, see the article "What's in the Numbers?" on page 32 in this issue of PUBLIC ROADS.

In addition to Highway Statistics, FHWA's Office of Highway Policy Information strives to produce other high-quality, timely information products that educate and inform elected and appointed officials, public policymakers, academia, and the public. The office's data findings serve as the foundation for many FHWA projects and programs. Throughout the year, staff works with States and the FHWA division offices to ensure that data are submitted on time and meet FHWA's requirements for quality and completeness.

Over the years, the data products produced by FHWA have evolved to meet the needs of its customers. A few years ago, the office added a number of multiyear tables and charts to better illustrate how various highway attributes have changed over time. In 2011, the office redesigned its Web site to make it easier for visitors to find information ( A new feature is a section called "State Statistical Abstracts," which pulls together data on population, land area, mileage, fuel use, drivers, vehicles, and travel and summarizes them for each State. The Office of Highway Policy Information continues to work on new ways to make data even more timely and informative. In the future, expect to see additional briefs and white papers on a wide variety of topics.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: In 2009, Americans logged more than 2.9 trillion vehicle miles travelled, enough for 6,182 trips to the moon and back. That same year, Americans consumed 168 billion gallons of diesel and gasoline on highway travel, enough to fill more than 254,500 Olympic swimming pools. This onhighway fuel accounted for almost $26.9 billion in Highway Trust Fund revenue.

What questions do you have about the Nation's highways? Highway Statistics is a great place to look for answers.

David Winter
Director, Office of Highway Policy Information
Federal Highway Administration