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Appendix E Data Source and Accuracy Statements

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Appendix E Data Source and Accuracy Statements

Box 1-1. Highway Performance Monitoring System

Sampling Frame Construction

The Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) sample is a stratified simple random sample of highway links (small sections of roadway) selected from state inventory files. The 1997 sample consists of about 120,000 samples. Each state maintains an independent inventory of highway road links for those roads that the state is responsible for (in some cases this can be a low percentage of total road miles within the state). Lower jurisdictions (MPOs, counties, cities, national parks, Indian reservations, etc.) may also maintain inventories of highway links under their jurisdiction. The HPMS sample was originally selected in 1978 based on guidelines provided by the FHWA for sampling highway systems excluding those roads functionally classified as local. The sampling frame for the state systems were the state inventories. The estimates represent the highway systems of each state. The HPMS sample was designed as a fixed sample to minimize data collection costs but adjustments to maintain representativeness are carried out periodically. The HPMS also consists of universe reporting (a complete census) for the Interstate and the National Highway System, and tabular summary reporting of limited information. A small number of data items (about 30) are reported for the complete universe. The universe information contains no sampling error. There are 4 tables reported as part of the summary.


The HPMS sample (and universe) is stratified by state, type of area (rural, urban, and individual urbanized areas), highway functional classification, and traffic (annual average daily traffic (AADT) volume groups).Complete information is provided in the HPMS Field Manual.


The HPMS sample expansion factors are the ratio of universe mileage to sample mileage in each strata.

Data Collection

Data are collected independently by the 50 states, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and lower jurisdictions. Many of the geometric data items rarely change, such as number of lanes. Others change frequently, such as traffic. Typically, the states maintain data inventories that are the repositories of a wide variety of data items. The HPMS data items are extracted from these inventories. For example, each State has a traffic volume counting program. Typically, equipment is installed or placed on the roads to measure traffic. The counts are then converted to annual average daily traffic (AADT) and stored in the state databases. AADT is one of the sample and universe items extracted from the inventories and reported to the HPMS. The FHWA provides guidelines for data collection in the HPMS Field Manual, which the states follow to varying extents depending on issues such as staff, resources, state perspective, uses of the data, state/MPO/local needs for data, etc. Traffic data collection, for example, is an expensive and dangerous undertaking, particularly in high volume urban areas.

State departments of transportation report HPMS data annually to the FHWA. There are about 80 data items reported for the sample component. The reporting deadline is June 15. Except for special cases where major problems occur, data items are reported for each sample. There is no provision for nonresponse since a number is available for each section in the state inventories; however, states do leave items blank to indicate that no data collection has taken place for a specific item (e.g., if no system to measure pavement has been implemented in the state, the pavement condition item may be left blank.) The HPMS has gone through a major restructuring effort, and major data item reductions, modifications, and other changes will begin to be implemented with the 1999 data reported by June 15, 2000.

Sampling Error

The sample size is estimated based on traffic volume (AADT) within each stratum. Traffic volume is the most variable data item. Sampling error can be estimated directly based on the sample design for each stratum and aggregated by stratified random sample methods to total values. This exercise was done originally in 1980 for some of the most variable data items including vehicle-miles traveled. It has not been repeated since due to the work involved and the limited impact of sampling error as compared to nonsampling error.

Nonsampling Error

This is a major item of concern for the HPMS. For some of the most variable and important data items, such as AADT, guidelines for measurement and data collection have been produced. States have the option of using the guidelines or using their own procedures. Many data items are difficult and costly to collect and are reported as estimates not based on direct measurement. The data are collected and reported by many entities and individuals within the responsible organizations. Most do a reasonably good job, but staff turnover, cost, equipment issues, etc., can create difficulties identifying data problems. As mentioned before, a response is usually provided for each link as included in state inventories. Measurement errors are unknown, but the difficulty of collecting some of the data items is well known. For highway links not the responsibility of states, metropolitan planning organizations and lower jurisdictions using a wide variety of methods may collect the data. This is a major area of concern and efforts are underway within States to standardize data collection. The major effort with the HPMS is to insure the collection and reporting of reliable annual data. The FHWA field offices in each state conduct annual verification of the data reported. Computer software is provided to build the database and conduct logic edits prior to submittal. The reported data are subjected to intense editing and comparison with previous reporting and a written annual report is provided to each state to document problems found and encourage correction. Data resubmittal is requested in cases where major problems are found. The process involves many people and substantial resources, but it provides extensive quality assurance. Complete information on data items, edits, processing, expansion, sample design, definitions, data reporting, etc., is included in the HPMS Field Manual.