Economists at the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe) recently announced completing the development of an econometric model, on behalf of the Federal Highway Administration, to help project the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by freight trucks and passenger vehicles over a 30- year horizon. The new forecasting model was built to provide policy-making support and scenario analysis capabilities to the FHWA's Office of Highway Policy Information.
The forecast information is presented at national and state geographic levels, as well as by vehicle type and roadway functional classification at the national level.
The trucking industry will have to wait a little longer to see any actual projections, however. The Volpe Center expects to issue a report sometime in the future to accompany the model that will be published on the FHWA website.
According to Volpe, the VMT model offers insight into the factors that influence the demand for commercial and passenger vehicle travel in the U.S.
Volpe economists Don Pickrell, David Pace, Rachel West and Garrett Hagemann determined that vehicle use was influenced by economic activity, income, demographic trends, the per-mile cost of operating vehicles and roadway extent and capacity.
The model also incorporates several factors intended to capture the influence of policy decisions on the demand for VMT, including fuel tax rates, fleet fuel efficiency and the possible introduction of a VMT fee.
These factors can be used by FHWA to help understand the potential effects of changes in policy on future travel demand, fuel use, and wear and tear on the nation's highways.
The model also will enable FHWA analysts to better examine how different economic outlooks (e.g., a high oil price forecast) may affect the demand for VMT data.