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VIUS FAQs

Friday, June 4, 2021

What is the purpose of the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS)?

The primary purpose of the VIUS is to measure the physical and operational characteristics of the U.S. truck population, and to gain an understanding nationally and statewide on how trucks are being utilized for various goods transport.

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Will the scope and population of interest for the 2021 VIUS remain the same as the earlier surveys? 

Yes, much like the earlier VIUS surveys, the 2021 VIUS will still: 

  • Be a sample of personal and commercial trucks
  • Provide data on physical and operational characteristics
  • Exclude vehicles owned by federal, state, and local governments; ambulances; buses; motor homes; farm tractors; unpowered trailer units; and trucks reported to have been disposed of prior to January 1, 2021.
  • Be planned to be conducted once every 5-years
  • Intend to produce national and state-level estimates of the total number of trucks

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What are some common uses of the VIUS data?

VIUS data is useful for a wide range of studies including: vehicle size and weight policy analyses, input to freight demand models and air quality models, investment and performance analysis, safety analysis, fuel efficiency analysis, forecasts on truck population and economic activity served, vehicle emission estimates, highway planning, planning for ports and intermodal center development, market analyses, assessment of technology penetration, and determining future fuel demands.

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Who uses the VIUS data?

VIUS data are critical to Federal Agencies (particularly to the Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and Bureau of Economic Analysis), to state Departments of Transportation (DOT’s), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO’s), the trucking industry, truck manufacturers, manufacturers of aftermarket equipment, energy companies, and private consulting firms.

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Who conducts the VIUS and how often is it conducted?

The US Census Bureau first conducted VIUS in 1963 and then every five years since then between 1967 and 2002.  For the 2021 VIUS, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics has partnered with the US Census Bureau, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Department of Energy  to conduct the VIUS once again.   

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What types of vehicles are included in the 2021 VIUS?

Commercial and personal vehicles registered in the U.S. that are classified by vehicle manufactures as trucks, minivans, or SUV’s, otherwise known as Class 1 through 8 trucks. This is same set of trucks that were surveyed in the 2002 VIUS.

The sampling frame includes:

  • Pickups
  • Vans, minivans, SUVs
  • Straight trucks with GVW < 26,000 lbs.
  • Straight trucks with GVW ≥ 26,000 lbs.
  • Truck tractors

Pickups, vans, minivans, and SUVs will be provided the light vehicle questionnaire.  Straight trucks and truck tractors will be provided the heavy vehicle questionnaire.

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What types of vehicles are not included in the 2021 VIUS?

  • Government-owned (federal, state, local) trucks
  • Trucks not registered in the U.S.
  • Vehicles that aren’t classified as trucks by vehicle manufacturers (e.g., automobiles, motorcycles)
  • Vehicles that may be classified as trucks but are out of scope for this survey (e.g., buses, ambulances, fire trucks, farm tractors, motor homes)
  • Trailers
  • Vehicles with duplicate Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs)

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Will e-commerce vehicles be included in 2021 VIUS?

Commercial trucks, including personal vehicles used for business, that move e-commerce will be included in the 2021 VIUS, but there are no specific questions on the 2021 VIUS that will measure the number of specific e-commerce trucks, what was carried, or their location.

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Will for-hire and private-use vehicles be in captured in the 2021 VIUS?

Yes, vehicles used in for-hire transportation, vehicles used in other businesses, and private-use vehicles will be in scope for the 2021 VIUS sample.  Additionally, there is a new question that pertains specifically to personal vehicles used in for-hire transportation.

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Will passenger vehicles be included in the 2021 VIUS?

Yes, passenger vehicles, such as, SUVs, minivans, pickups, and light trucks will all be in scope for the 2021 VIUS sample. 

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What NAICS industries will be covered in the 2021 VIUS?

The VIUS is a sample of registered vehicles without regard for industry. The VIUS asks the respondent for the industry served by the sampled vehicle.

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When will the 2021 VIUS data collection begin?

February 2022

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When Will the 2021 VIUS data be released?

Fall 2023

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What is the sample size of the 2021 VIUS?

Approximately 150,000 trucks

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What is the source of the sample data?

R.L. Polk & Co. (a subsidiary of IHS Markit)

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What is considered a commercial truck?

Trucks specifically engaged in commercial activities, which includes for-hire transportation and other businesses such as the delivery van operated by a florist.

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What is considered a personal vehicle/truck?

Trucks used for personal activities with no intent for commercial use

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How will the 2021 VIUS data be collected? 

The 2021 VIUS will be the first VIUS to be conducted through an online questionnaire.  No data will be collected through any other means, including Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs).

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Are there any new questions or content that will be collected that was not collected in previous VIUS surveys? 

Yes, given that it has been almost 20 years since the last VIUS, there has been significant change in the vehicle industry.  Thus, there a number of new questions that have been added and old questions that have been modified.  Below lists the topic areas and question types that have been added or modified for the 2021 VIUS. 

  • Acquisition –
    • If an owner plans to replace existing vehicle with one of a different weight class or axle load
  • Physical Characteristics—
    • Number of rear axle tires
    • Standard features
    • Driver assistance features
    • Fuel economy features
    • Towing capacity
    • Exterior height of vehicle cabin
    • Number of gears
  • Mileage—
    • Calculation of annual mileage
    • Calculation of miles-per-gallon
    • Percent of time vehicle spent idling (stationary)
    • Percent of time vehicle spent in auxiliary power
  • Fuel and Maintenance—
    • Electric power as a fuel type
    • Cost of general maintenance
    • Cost of extensive repairs
    • Rebuilt or overhauled vehicle engine
    • Year of rebuilt of overhauled engine
  • Vehicle Configuration—
    • Trailer add-on equipment
  • Weight—
    • Average payload in pounds
    • Average weight of non-trailer cargo
    • Miles operated with an overweight permit
    • Annual overweight permits purchased
    • Annual overweight permits for intrastate travel
    • Number of trips requiring a single trip overweight permit
  • Kind of Business—
    • Commercial or business-related use
    • Commercial use activities
    • Percent of vehicle mileage by commercial use activity
  • For-hire –
    • Percent of vehicle mileage by type of trips
  • Product, Equipment, or Materials –
    • Percent of mileage driven to reposition the empty vehicle to a new location for the next load
    • Approximate percent of annual mileage driver as a direct empty backhaul to home base
    • Less efficient routes taken due to low height on bridges or tunnels

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Are there differences between the 2002 and 2021 sample design? 

There is no difference between the 2002 and 2021 VIUS truck strata.  The strata remain the same: (1) Pickups, (2) minivans and other light vans and SUVS, (3) Light single-unit trucks under 26,000 lbs., (4) heavy single-unit trucks over 26,000 lbs., (5) truck-tractors

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