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After a two-decade hiatus, a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation this month is reviving a research effort to help gain a better understanding of the features and purposes of commercial vehicles on the country’s roadways.
Officials at the Bureau of Transportation Statistics are relaunching the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey, or VIUS, to “gain an understanding nationally and statewide on how trucks are being utilized for various goods transport.”
BTS plans to survey 150,000 owners of Classes 1-8 vehicles, a broad swatch of classifications that all offer commercial trucks. The survey will seek to learn details about a truck’s age and model, as well as users’ driving habits, fuel consumption, work schedules and traveling patterns.
Launching this February, first VIUS in 20 years! Sponsored by #theoriginalbts, @uscensusbureau, and @USDOTFHWA. What’s a VIUS? Find out at https://t.co/NnIVTfKYMO #freight #trucking #vius @OOIDA @TRUCKINGdotORG pic.twitter.com/E8gZcvyGAW— TransportStats (@TransportStats) January 24, 2022
The classification of goods transported and frequency of maintenance performed also will be asked in the survey, along with data miles traveled and fuel economy by weight, type and configuration. Additionally, the survey will seek input on parking-assist technologies and vehicle-to-vehicle communications.
Sample questions include: “Was this vehicle new when you took physical possession of it?” and “What type of transmission did this vehicle have?”
The survey is scheduled to commence Feb. 23 and conclude in October. Results are expected to be released next year.
Janine McFadden, VIUS’ project manager, told Transport Topics the information is meant to inform transportation officials and analysts on real-world applications related to industry trends, as well as driving habits and economic indicators.
“All information collected will be new information,” she said. “There’s been a real need for this updated data in terms of developing vehicle size and weight studies, learning about what kind of trucks are out on our nation’s roadways, what fuel do they use.”
McFadden emphasized that researchers will be interested in background on vehicles, such as, “What do they transport, what industries are they used for, who owns them, how long have they’ve been owned by that driver,” she said.
According to BTS, VIUS is meant as a tool to assist researchers and planners with producing near- and long-term reports on safety outlooks and automotive technology.
McFadden noted that BTS believes the data could contribute to reports and advancement of scholarships across commercial transportation, the trucking industry, clean energy and vehicle manufacturing sectors. The data also could lead to improvements in state and municipal infrastructure, as well as national-level statistics on trucks, she said.
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Of use for such reports will be statistics gathered about size and weight, driver-assistance technology, air quality models, fuel efficiency and exposure to potential safety risks.
To compel participation, McFadden said BTS created promotional multimedia materials that will be found online and distributed at workshops and conferences. She emphasized the VIUS team is seeking a strong participation rate. “That’s why we’re really trying to market the surveys, so folks that may receive it will know about it; know the importance,” she said.
VIUS will be done in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, the Energy Department and the U.S. Census Bureau. The cost to conduct the survey is $11.3 million, according to VIUS’ managers.
As part of USDOT, BTS is tasked with preparing statistics on commercial aviation, multimodal freight activity and transportation sector economics for public review.