ABS Survey of Motor Vehicle Use

    

Accurate and transparent data is important for improving infrastructure and transport network investment decisions and enabling end-to-end performance evaluation of Australia’s freight system.

The Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU) has provided benchmark data on total road passenger and freight vehicle use in Australia approximately every two years since 1971.

Part of the funding for the National Freight Data Hub was to undertake a Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU) to be performed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to provide benchmark data on total road passenger and freight vehicle use in Australia in 2019-20.

The Survey of Motor Vehicle Use is intended to provide national and state estimates of:

  • Total and average distance travelled (for passenger and freight vehicles).
  • Total and average freight carried (tonnes).
  • Total and average freight movements (tonne kilometres).
  • Total and average fuel use by freight vehicles.
An upwards linear graph depicting billion tonne kilometers, versus years between 1971 and 2016

Total Australian road freight task, 1971-2018

Source: ABS Survey of Motor Vehicle Use and BITRE estimates

SMVU estimates are used in:

  • National Transport Commission heavy vehicle road use charges determinations and annual updates.
  • Informing light and heavy vehicle road reform options.
  • Providing road safety exposure measures (to estimate accident rates per vehicle-kilometre travelled).
  • Forecasting future road use and freight task trends by both national and state governments.

The 2019-20 estimates were published on 21 December 2020, and provided outputs broken down into the three periods:

  • Period 1 – 1 July 2019 to 31 October 2019
  • Period 2 – 1 November 2019 to 29 February 2020 (bushfires and severe weather events)
  • Period 3 – 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 (COVID-19)