Road freight transport measurement (road_go)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)
National metadata

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: Eurostat user support


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

Directorate E : Sectoral and regional statistics

E3: Transport Statistics

Road freight data

1.5. Contact mail address

 Office address:

Joseph Bech building

5, Rue Alphonse Weicker

L-2721 Luxembourg


Postal address:

European Commission, Eurostat

L-2920 Luxembourg

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 06/01/2023
2.2. Metadata last posted 06/01/2023
2.3. Metadata last update 06/01/2023

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Eurostat collects road transport statistics by two means:

1. Data on infrastructure, transport equipment, enterprises, economic performance, employment, traffic, aggregated data on transport of passengers and goods as well as data on accidents are collected using the Common Questionnaire of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Eurostat and the International Transport Forum (ITF, in the framework of OECD). The method of the Common Questionnaire data collection is presented in a separate document.

2. Data on carriage of goods by road, using heavy goods vehicles, are based on a continuum of legal acts:

2.1 Data collection on carriage of goods by road until 1998 (included) was based on Directives 78/546/EEC and 89/462/EEC and covered tonnes and tonne-kilometres only.

2.2 Data since the reference period 1999 are derived from micro-data collected in the framework of Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 of the European parliament and of the council on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road, a recast of Council Regulation (EC) 1172/98 which has replaced the previous Directives. The figures are aggregated on the basis of sample surveys carried out by the reporting countries. The data cover tonnes, tonne-kilometres, vehicle-kilometres and numbers of journeys.

These metadata pages only refer to road freight statistics based on the European Union's legal acts (point 2 above) and, in particular, to the data for reference years 1999 and after (2.2).

Road freight data collection consists of three datasets for each quarter from each reporting country:

  • Vehicle information for a sample of road good motor vehicles
  • Journey information of loaded and empty (optional) journeys by the vehicles in the sample during the observation period (most often one week)
  • Goods information on loads transported during the reported journeys.

The quantity and performance of road freight transport are collected in tonnes, tonne-kilometres, vehicle-kilometres and number of journeys. Tonne-kilometres are both collected (in journey and goods datasets) and calculated (by multiplying the weight of goods by the distance travelled for each goods operation).

For the variables collected please refer to Commission Regulation (EC) 2163/2001.

Road freight transport statistics are reported by Member States for vehicles registered in their country. On the basis of variables contained in the micro-data (reporting country, country of loading and country of unloading of a journey) five types of operations are derived:

  • National transport
  • International transport - goods loaded in the reporting country
  • International transport - goods unloaded in the reporting country
  • International transport - cross-trade
  • International transport - cabotage

Specific characteristics of each country’s data collection are provided in the country specific note which is available in CIRCABC.

3.2. Classification system

Statistics on carriage of goods by road apply the following statistical classifications:

  • type of goods: NST/R until 2007 (included) and NST 2007 thereafter;
  • regional coding of loading and unloading places: NUTS;
  • economic activity of the owner of the vehicle (optional): NACE;
  • type of dangerous goods (when applicable): ADR;
  • type of cargo (optional): UN recommendation 21.

The type of goods transported by road was collected, until reference year 2007 (included), according to the 24 groups of goods following the "Standard Goods Classification for Transport Statistics/Revised (NST/R )", (see the RAMON classification server on Eurostat's web site). Statistics were published at this detailed level - or aggregated to 10 chapters.

From 2008 onwards, goods have been classified according to "Standard goods classification for transport statistics 2007, NST 2007".

The principles of the two classifications are different: NST/R was based on physical characteristics of goods, whereas the production process where the goods are coming from is the basis of NST 2007. In this way, NST 2007 belongs to the same family of classifications as CPA ("Statistical Classification of Products by Activity in the European Economic Community, 2008 version").

The regional coding is done in conformity with European legislation: "NUTS Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics" (see also RAMON/NUTS). The Directives data before 1999 were collected at level 2 of NUTS; since 1999 the Council Regulation 1172/98 road freight data have been collected at level 3 of NUTS. Simplified coding was allowed in Articles 5 § 4 of Regulation 1172/98 until the end of the reference year 2007. Before this, full regional coding was obligatory for national transport only; for international transport a transitional period allowed the regional coding of the places of loading and unloading with country codes only. Full regional coding of international journeys has been applied for the whole EEA area from the beginning of 2008 (reference year).

Economic activity class of the vehicle owner is an optional variable. Data were collected according to NACE Rev. 1 until the end of 2007. From the beginning of 2008 onwards, the economic activity has been classified according to NACE Rev. 2 (see RAMON "Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community, Rev. 2 (NACE Rev. 2)").

Type of dangerous goods is a mandatory variable, but it is reported only for those goods that fall into this category. The classification is based on "European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road", Chapter 2.1, as published in Annex E of Council Regulation (EC) No 1172/98. Directive 2008/68/EC makes reference to ADR (European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road, concluded at Geneva on 30 September 1957), as regards the transport of dangerous goods by road.

The optional variable type of cargo follows the Classification of Cargo Types of UNECE (United Nations, Economic Commission for Europe - codes for types of cargo, packages and packaging materials, Recommendation 21 adopted by the Working Party on Facilitation of International Trade Procedures, Geneva, March 1986).

3.3. Coverage - sector

Statistics produced on the basis of Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 cover the following road freight transport operations by heavy goods vehicles registered in the reporting countries:

  • Commercial road freight transport (NACE Rev.1.1 I6024; NACE Rev.2 H494), referred to as "Hire or reward" road freight transport.
  • Road freight transport by private vehicles and by vehicles owned by companies classified in other classes than professional road freight transport. This kind of transport is identified as "Own account" road freight and it covers transport operations by manufacturing industry, construction, trade and other companies.

Operations by small goods vehicles (the definition of "a small goods vehicle" depends on the country) and extra-EEA vehicles are not covered in these statistics.

Data are based on sample surveys in the reporting countries.

Currently some work is ongoing to set a methodology to develop collection of statistics on light utility vehicles on a voluntary basis.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The main concepts used in Road freight statistics are the following, more details can be found in the Road freight transport methodology manual : 

A goods road motor vehicle is any single road transport vehicle (lorry), or combination of road vehicles, namely road train (lorry with trailer) or articulated vehicle (road tractor with semi-trailer), designed to carry goods
Cross-trade is international road transport between two different countries performed by a road motor vehicle registered in a third country.
National transport is Road transport between two places (a place of loading and a place of unloading) located in the same country by a vehicle registered in that country. 
International transport is Road transport between two places (a place of loading and a place of unloading) in two different countries and cabotage by road. It may involve transit through one or more additional country or countries.
Transit is any loaded or empty road motor vehicle, which enters and leaves a country at different points by whatever means of transport, provided the total journey within the country is by road and that there is no loading or unloading in the country.
Goods carried by road are any goods moved by goods vehicle
Place of loading/unloading of a goods road vehicle on another mode of transport

  • Place of loading (of the goods road transport vehicle on another mode of transport): The place of loading is the first place where the goods road motor vehicle was loaded on to another mode of transport (usually a ship or a rail wagon).
  • Place of unloading (of the goods road transport vehicle from another mode of transport): The place of unloading is the last place where the goods road motor vehicle was unloaded from another mode of transport (usually a ship or a rail wagon).

Each reporting country reports all activities of a road motor vehicle inside and outside its national territory. There is thus no risk of double counting at European level.

For all definitions please refer to the "Road freight transport methodology - Reference manual for the implementation of Regulation (EU) 70/2012" Chapter 10: Definition of variables, classifications and codes" on Eurostat's website. 

National characteristics of surveys are presented in the publication "Methodologies used in surveys of road freight transport in Member States, EFTA and Candidate Countries" on Eurostat's website. 

3.5. Statistical unit

The reporting unit for road freight transport statistics is the goods road transport vehicle or the local unit (a site of a company, as identified in the national business register).  Please have a look at the methodology used in each reporting country during the different reporting years:

3.6. Statistical population

As the total number of statistical units (most commonly vehicles) in most reporting countries is very large, sample surveys are carried out to collect information. A representative selection is drawn from the population (see "Road freight transport methodology - Reference manual for the implementation of Regulation (EU) 70/2012" Part A) in such a way that the desired attributes can be estimated, within the limits of a pre-defined precision, according to standard statistical theory.

"Methodologies used in surveys of road freight transport in Member States, EFTA and Candidate Countries" includes summary tables with basic information on sampling, response rates, register quality and precision of results of the surveys in the reporting countries.

3.7. Reference area

The data cover European Union, EEA and candidate countries. The time coverage follows the enlargement of the European Union.

Data collected under the Directives 78/546/EEC and 89/462/EEC cover mainly EU-14 countries. New Member States provided generally data starting from the date of their accession to the EU; therefore, historic time series are not complete for all countries.

The data based on Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 cover today all EU-MS (except Malta exempted), Norway, Liechtenstein (since 2005 and until 2013; from 2014, Liechtenstein is exempted from the reporting of road freight data), Switzerland (since 2008) and Croatia (since 2008) - Iceland is exempted.

The coverage is shown in the 'Data availability' tables, updated regularly on CIRCA. (If the link above does not work, copy the following URL into the address bar of your browser:

3.8. Coverage - Time

The period from 1982 to 1998 is covered gradually for the EU-14 Member States and Norway. Since the 80s the geographical coverage was extended by the accession of new Member States, which are, in principle, covered from the year of accession.

The number of reporting countries has loosely followed the enlargement of the European Union. In the following cumulative list, the current reporting countries have been grouped by the first reference year of reporting the regular road freight data:
·        1999: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland and Norway (13)
·        2000: Czechia and Sweden (2)
·        2001: Hungary and Slovenia (2)
·        2002: Cyprus and Latvia (2)
·        2003: Estonia, Greece, Lithuania and Slovakia (4)
·        2004: Poland (1)
·        2005: Liechtenstein (1), but only until 2013, as starting with 2014 Liechtenstein is exempted from the reporting of road freight data
·        2006: Bulgaria and Romania (2)
·        2008: Switzerland and Croatia (2)

Consequently, in 2022 there are 28 reporting countries.

Apart from some test data referring to year 2002, Malta has not reported road freight data.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable

4. Unit of measure Top

Data are collected in tonnes, tonne-kilometres, vehicle-kilometres and in number of journeys (journey data) or in number of basic transport operations, BTO (goods related data).

The time unit is mostly one week (Germany, one of the biggest reporting countries, collects data during half a week, Finland collects data every 3 to 4 days), the time units covered in a year are mostly 52 weeks (see methodologies used in reporting countries); the submitted micro-data are extrapolated (grossed up) by Eurostat on the basis of the reported weighting factors to obtain quarterly data.

Annual data are summed up from the quarterly data.

The "three-layer structure" of data (vehicle data, journey data and goods data) allows calculating some vehicle data from the journey data and some journey data from goods related data. The data aggregated from different layers do not always match perfectly, due to different reporting practices.

The data published on basic transport operations (BTO) may not be reliable in all dissemination tables: User feedback suggests that, for multi-stop journeys representing less than 10% of all journeys, the number of basic transport operations is underestimated by a factor of 2-4.

The reported values are expressed in plain quantities, without the calculation of indices. Data are not seasonally adjusted.

5. Reference Period Top

The road data are collected on a quarterly basis and are reported to Eurostat five months after the end of the reference period.

Commission Regulation No 642/2004 on precision requirements requires that, even in the smallest reporting countries with less than 25 000 relevant vehicles, at least 7 of the 13 weeks of each quarter shall be covered by the survey.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Regulation (EU) N° 70/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 January 2012 on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods by road (recast)

As to the data before the reference year 1999, Council Directive 78/546/EEC of 12 June 1978 on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods by road, as part of regional statistics and Council Directive 89/462/EEC of 18 July 1989 amending Directive 78/546/EEC on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods by road, as part of regional statistics were the legal base for European road freight statistics during 1982-1998.

From the beginning of 1999, these Directives were replaced by Council Regulation (EC) No 1172/98 of 25 May 1998 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road.

Commission Regulation (EC) 2691/1999 of 17 December 1999 on rules for implementing Council Regulation (EC) 1172/98 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road made the first amendments of the country codes used for reporting road freight.

Commission Regulation EC 2163/2001 of 7 November 2001 concerning the technical arrangements for data transmission for statistics of carriage of goods by road gives a detailed description of the data sets that the reporting countries submit to Eurostat.

Commission Regulation (EC) 6/2003 of 30 December 2002 concerning the dissemination of statistics on the carriage of goods by road lists explicitly the road freight data that can be disseminated.

Commission Regulation (EU) 202/2010 of 10 March 2010 amending Regulation (EC) No 6/2003 concerning the dissemination of statistics on the carriage of goods by road.

Commission Regulation (EC) 642/2004 of 6 April 2004 on precision requirements for data collected in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) 1172/98 sets out the precision requirements for the data that the reporting countries submit to Eurostat.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 833/2007 of 16 July 2007 ending the transitional period provided for in Council Regulation (EC) No 1172/98 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road (Text with EEA relevance) ends the transitional period for incomplete regional coding at the end of 2007.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1304/2007 of 7 November 2007 establishes NST 2007 as the unique goods classification for road freight and other transport statistics.

Regulation (EC) No 399/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 amended Council Regulation No 1172 as regards the committee procedure.

Commission Regulation (EU) No 520/2010  of 16 June 2010 amending Regulation (EC) No 831/2002 concerning access to confidential data for scientific purposes as regards the available surveys and statistical data sources.

The consolidated version (see link in the beginning of this chapter) takes into account both the change of the institutional framework (Regulation 399/2009) and the Commission Regulations until the new classifications of goods for transport statistics.

A wider European legislative framework for international road freight transport is presented by Regulation (EEC) 1072/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on common rules for access to the international road haulage market.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Eurostat submits annually semi-aggregated data (data exchange tables, see Commission Regulation (EU) No 202/2010 amending the Commission Regulation (EC) 6/2003) back to the reporting countries so that they can compile the total road freight transport on their national territories, including the operations by national hauliers and also those of all other reporting countries.

These data exchange tables include more detailed breakdowns than the publicly available tables. They also include, for each value, the information on the number of observations that the estimates are based on. In this way, the reporting countries can estimate the reliability of results that they aggregate from the data exchange tables.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

All road freight micro-data are treated as if they were confidential (see section 7.1 above). This means the following:

  • data transmission from the reporting countries to Eurostat takes place in encrypted format using the eDAMIS data transmission tool;
  • data are treated on a secured server, to which access is restricted and strictly controlled;
  • all people working with the road freight micro-data must sign an agreement stipulating that they respect the rules of the treatment of confidential data;
  • dissemination of the data  can only take place if the value is based on more than 10 observations (see Commission Regulation (EC) 6/2003, Article 3 (1));
  • semi-aggregated "data exchange tables" that are submitted back to the reporting countries (Article 3(2) of Regulation 6/2003) are also treated as if they were confidential: encrypted transmission through eDAMIS, restricted access to data in the reporting countries, publication of results by the reporting countries only if a value is based on more than 10 observations. 

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Not applicable

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

The tables consist of annual and quarterly data.

Quarterly data are updated quarterly, but at irregular intervals within 2-3 months after the data delivery from the reporting countries to Eurostat. Eurostat receives the data generally 5 months after the end of the reference period. The exact date for updates depends on the availability of data.

Annual data are updated for the first time in June-July of the consequent year and thereafter, together with quarterly updates, if new or revised annual data are available.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

Currently there are no regular news releases on road freight transport.

Road freight transport statistics are included in Eurostat's press releases on the development of inland freight transport.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Road freight data are included in an annual pocketbook Energy, transport and environment indicators, as well as in the Key figures on European transport.

In the Transport section of Eurostat's Statistics Explained, the following articles on Road freight transport are published yearly:

  • Road freight transport statistics
  • Road freight transport by type of goods
  • Road freight transport by journey characteristics
  • Road freight transport by vehicle characteristics

One Statistics Explained article is published every two years:

  • Road freight transport statistics - cabotage

Finally, Directorate General of Energy and Transport uses Eurostat's data and other sources in their annual Statistical pocketbook.


10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Eurostat's online Database is the most complete and most up-to-date source of European Union road freight transport statistics. Other publications (Statistics Explained, etc.) are based on data extracted from the Database.

Road freight data can be found in the following way in the navigation tree:

  • -> Database
  • --> Transport
  • ---> Road transport (road)
  • ----> Road freight transport measurement (road_go)

Another branch of the navigation tree, "Main tables", also has a subset of road freight data, extracted dynamically after each update of the Database.

Additional data related to road freight business (but not collected by the surveys described in this document) can be found in the "Database by themes" navigation tree:

  • --> Industry, trade and services
  • ---> Short-term business statistics (sts)
  • ----> Trade and services (sts_ts)
  • -----> Services (sts_os)
  • ------> Service producer prices (SPPI) (sts_os_pp)
  • -------> Service producer prices - quarterly data (sts_sepp_q(Total output price index; code for freight transport by road and removal services is H494 in NACE Rev. 2 classification)


  • --> Industry, trade and services
  • ---> Structural business statistics (sbs)
  • ----> SBS services (serv)
  • -----> Annual detailed enterprise statistics - services (sbs_na_serv)
  • ------> Annual detailed enterprise statistics on services (NACE Rev. 2 H-N and S95) (sbs_na_1a_se_r2) (code for freight transport by road is H4941).
10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Researchers' access to micro-data is regulated by Commission Regulation (EU) No 557/2013 amending  Commission Regulation (EC) No 831/2002 of 17 May 2002 concerning access to confidential data for scientific purposes.

All road freight micro-data, including the semi-aggregated "data exchange tables", are dealt with as if they were confidential micro-data (see section 7.1).

After this amendment, access to road freight micro-data may be granted following the rules of admissibility and the general conditions laid down in this regulation. It is important to note that each reporting country can refuse access to the micro-data transmitted by them to Eurostat for any access request.

Practical arrangements concerning access to confidential micro-data can be found on Eurostat's website.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

National statistical authorities of the reporting countries regularly publish data on road freight transport on their national websites.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

Quarterly micro-data consist of vehicle-, journey- and goods-related information. A detailed presentation of the recommended methodology is published in Road freight transport methodology - Reference manual for the implementation of Regulation (EU) 70/2012 in 2016. National characteristics of surveys, conducted in the reporting countries in 2021, were published in Methodologies used in surveys of road freight transport in Member States, EFTA and Candidate Countries. This latter publication also contains data on response rates, vehicle registers' quality, sampling rates and statistical errors in surveys carried out in 2021.

The vehicle-related data contain, among others, indications about the type of the vehicle, the economic activity of the owner of the vehicle, the total kilometres loaded or empty. Depending on the focus of the table, Eurostat may use the vehicle-related information to calculate data and aggregates according to common methods.

The journey-related data contain, among others, indications about weight of goods, distance driven and tonne-kilometres performed during a journey. Journey-related data are used for those dissemination tables where the breakdown by goods, by dangerous goods or by type of cargo is not present.

The goods-related data contain among others also weight and distance information of the transported goods. Depending on the focus of the table Eurostat may use the goods-related information to calculate data and aggregates according to common methods.

All definitions in relation with this data collection are available in the "Road freight transport methodology", available on Eurostat's website in the "Manuals and guidelines" collection.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

In addition to these metadata pages, there are two main sources of information on the quality of road freight data:

1. Methodologies used in surveys of road freight transport in Member States, EFTA and Candidate Countries contains data on response rates, vehicle registers' quality, sampling rates and statistical errors in surveys carried out in 2021. It also reports on the simplifications used, by the reporting countries, in data collection.

2. The Data Monitoring folder of the Road library of CIRCA Transport Forum includes frequently updated information on data availability and country specific notes. The Methodology section of the same forum includes, among other things, information on Precision calculation results. Please note that the accessibility to those sites is possible upon a request for membership which has to be validated.

If the links under point 2 do not work, copy the following URL into the address bar of your browser (Data monitoring) (Precision calculation)

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

The quality assurance of the EU road freight transport statistics data is based on the following principles:

1. The reporting countries shall use similar methods and definitions in order to produce quality data. However, the sample design, the assurance of a sufficient response rate and the general conducting of surveys is the reporting countries' responsibility.

2. The statistical error (percentage standard error) of the micro-data transmitted to Eurostat shall not be greater than 5% (special conditions apply to smaller countries, see Commission Regulation (EC) 642/2004).

3. In addition to the data, the reporting countries regularly inform Eurostat on the national characteristics of the data collection. This information is published as part of the quality documentation.

4. Eurostat validates the incoming micro-data, record by record, by applying detailed validation checks as described in Chapter 12 of Road freight transport methodology.

5. Eurostat regularly carries out precision calculations with the micro-data to verify the reporting countries' compliance with Commission Regulation 642/2004. The results of precision calculations are shared with the users of the data via CIRCA Transport Forum.

6. Benchmarking studies are carried out to verify the existence of possible bias in the road freight data by comparing the results with other independent data sources (Cross-Alpine Freight Transport surveys, Channel-crossing statistics and toll-motorway data).

These 6 actions are specific to road freight transport statistics. Additionally, the overall "Total Quality Management" framework of Eurostat's quality assurance activities is applicable to road freight data. Also, detailed activities, for example publications, have their generic quality assurance circuits.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

The three main tools for the assessment of the quality of the aggregated road freight data are:

  1. Methodological comparisons with the national surveys and the recommended methodology, including coverage of surveys, simplifying assumptions, register quality, sampling rate and response rate. 
  2. Precision calculations following Commission Regulation (EC) 642/2004.
  3. Benchmarking.

The aim is to keep the users of the data informed on all these aspects by means of the methodological manuals, country specific notes, results of the precision calculations and benchmarking studies.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

The main users of the EU road freight statistics are the European Commission, the national authorities of the EU member states, research institutions and industrial organisations.

The use of road freight statistics by administrations is frequently indirect: Data are used by the administrations via studies executed by researchers and other contractors.

The main policy areas include competition, regional policies, trans-European transport networks, modal shift actions and environmental analyses.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

A user survey of road freight statistics was carried out in 2009, as part of the rolling review of the EU road freight statistics.

Users expressed a quite positive opinion about a number of issues. Most of them need road freight transport statistics data for their work and are frequent users. They stated that they use a broad range of data provided in this area for research purposes and policy making, and they expressed their interest in further statistical analysis of road freight transport statistics data. Topics listed include data on environmental impact as well as data on road safety and road congestion.

On the quality of the data, the users expressed "adequate" level of satisfaction. Clarity and accuracy were the aspects of the statistics with which users were more satisfied.  Timeliness and completeness were the least satisfactory aspects. Accuracy and completeness were by far the most important dimensions and users were not very satisfied with the completeness of road freight transport statistics. Timeliness, with which the users are also less satisfied, comes third in order of importance.

Neither the user awareness of the metadata nor the appreciation of their quality was high. On the other hand, users were very satisfied with Eurostat's supporting service and mentioned that they always received an adequate answer to their inquiries. Regarding the overall quality including data quality and supporting services, most users found it adequate while those that found it good or very good are double those who found it poor.

Users stated that they used also other data sources, a mixture of public and private, national and international sources for a multitude of reasons. The most common reasons mentioned were the availability of indicators and the length of the time series. Timeliness, with which users were unsatisfied, was not high in the list. This may show that the timeliness of these other sources is not considered better than Eurostat's. The same applies to the availability of detail which was frequently mentioned as a desired extension of European road freight statistics.

12.3. Completeness

Small goods vehicles (with loading capacity below 3.5 tonnes) and extra-EU vehicles (vehicles registered in other than the reporting countries) are not covered by the Eurostat data. Therefore, particularly in the EU-border countries a big part of international transport falls outside these statistics. This situation will improve by the enlargement of the EU when Serbia, North Macedonia and Turkey start reporting road freight data on a regular basis.

As road freight statistics are based on sample surveys, the completeness of the data decreases as the detail of breakdowns increases. For example, the regional origin-destination data are collected at NUTS-3 level, but the data cannot be published because most origin-destination flows are based on few observations and the data are considered as confidential according to the dissemination rules. Still, many users ask for such detailed data.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

Road freight data come from sample surveys. The overall sampling error of the estimates for the large reporting countries of the total and the national transport should be within 5% standard percentage error (SPE).

 Regarding bias, underreporting is clearly an issue that has been identified in different benchmarking exercises.


13.2. Sampling error

The compliance of the reporting countries with Regulation (EU) No 70/2012 is partly assessed on the basis of the sampling error. The requirements are set out in Article 2 of Commission Regulation (EC) 642/2004: In general, the standard percentage error (95% confidence) of annual estimates for tonnes transported, tonne-kilometres performed and total kilometres travelled loaded shall not be greater than 5% for total goods road transport and for national goods road transport. For countries where the total relevant vehicle stock is less than 25 000 vehicles - or the stock of vehicles engaged in international transport is less than 3000 - the standard percentage error shall not be greater than 7% (95% confidence). According to Article 4, the Member States where the total stock of relevant vehicles that can be engaged in international transport is less than 1000 vehicles are exempted from the precision requirements. Member States shall also provide Eurostat with sufficient supplementary information (for example, on stratification) so that the verification of precision calculations can be carried out by Eurostat.

The results of Eurostat's precision calculations for the reference years 2018 and 2019 are presented in Tables 7, 8 and 9 of the Methodologies used in surveys of road freight transport in Member States, EFTA and Candidate Countries while the latest results are also available on CIRCABC Library > 03_Road > 5_Methodology > Results of precision_calculations ( Please note that the accessibility to this site is possible upon a request for membership which has to be validated. In general, the big reporting countries have no difficulties in fulfilling the legal requirements as regards precision. The smaller countries (the Baltic States, Slovenia, Greece and the Nordic Countries) not always did achieve the required level, especially for tonnes.

The legal precision requirements only concern the main aggregates, total transport and total national transport. However, the same methodology can be applied to any subset of the data when applying the assumption that the breakdowns of sub-groups in the sample are equally present in the population.

The sampling error of international transport (conventional international transport, cross-trade and cabotage), published in Statistics in Focus, gives a good illustration of the fact that the smaller the number of observations is, the greater the sampling error. Especially the sampling error in cross-trade and cabotage, a rare type of transport in particular in smaller countries, shows that standard error is typically 10-20% but can rise many times in those small countries where this type of transport is not frequent and the observations can be caught to the sample with difficulty.

What applies to the breakdown by type of international transport, also applies to breakdowns by type of goods, by type of cargo - and in particular by type of dangerous goods. Results of the precision calculations of these sub-domains are available on CIRCA (See section 5 - Results of precision calculations).

The conclusion on the sampling error of road freight transport statistics is that the more the data are broken down, the more imprecise the results are. For example, international transport by country of loading and unloading broken down by type of goods should be dealt with ultimate care. If the table includes several cells marked as "unreliable" (":u"), meaning that the number of observations is less than 10, then the other published cells may also be based on just 10 observations, or slightly more.

13.3. Non-sampling error

The identification of "non-sampling error", for example bias, in the European road freight transport statistics requires the use of external data sources. In contrast to maritime or rail transport statistics, the use of mirror-analysis is not possible for the road freight data. Some external data sources are available, allowing cross-checking the results, which is not possible within the system of the road freight transport statistics alone. There are results of the road side interviews, carried out at the Alps and the Pyrenees every five years and enabling in-depth analyses. Additionally, maritime statistics offer a possibility of a cross-checking at relevant ferry connections.

 Underreporting can be considered as a prevalent bias of the road freight statistics. Having in mind that respondents can ease their burden by omitting journeys, this underreporting is, in principle, an immanent systematic error. However, improvements have been made by the reporting countries to reduce this problem. The efforts of reporting countries have led to a reduction in the underestimation of road freight statistics over time.

 Thus, time series are not in line with the real development. For the time being, the available additional data seem sufficient and the results clear enough to calculate modified time series of the European road freight statistics, which would also be in line with statistics on the network flow. However, such an exercise would require different data than what were initially reported by the countries.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Data are normally updated once per quarter.

 Data are submitted to Eurostat within 5 months after the end of the reference period. Data are published within three months after arriving to Eurostat.

 If new annual data (all four quarters of a calendar year) have become available, the annual datasets are also updated together with the quarterly datasets.

14.2. Punctuality

Most reporting countries respect the 5 month delay.

 Several countries, however, may sometimes encounter serious problems when restructuring their surveys or when changing external contractors.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

A similar survey methodology, based on Road freight transport methodology, is generally applied by all reporting countries. In general rule, the definitions are the same with those presented in the manual. For this reason, the geographical coherence of the EU road freight statistics is generally very good.

 However, there are some national characteristics of surveys that should be kept in mind when comparing the estimates:

1. Weight. According to Regulation (EU) No 70/2012, gross weight (excluding packaging, pallets and containers) should be reported. For different reasons (for example, in order to maintain coherence with rail and inland waterways transport statistics) several reporting countries report gross-gross weight instead of gross weight. In practice, only the weight of journeys using containers and swap-bodies is significantly affected by the different reporting practices - in EU aggregates this means less than 1%, because the share of containers is generally less than 10%.

2. Multi-stop journeys. There are two ways to report multi-stop journeys: reporting by consignment and reporting by consecutive stops ("vertical stages", see Road freight transport methodology, p, C-8). In the aggregation of micro-data by Eurostat, these two methods give different results, affecting the total weight of goods. The ways of reporting multi-stop journeys by the reporting countries are listed in Methodologies used in surveys of road freight transport in Member States, EFTA and Candidate Countries.

3. Classification of containers. Type of cargo is an optional variable, reported by most of the reporting countries. Swap-bodies are generally reported as "large freight containers" according to UN Recommendation 21. Some countries reported swap-bodies as "other freight containers" until 2007 (included) before the Road freight transport methodology (p.B-77) was clarified on this issue. Data on how different countries report swap-bodies can be found in country and table specific notes (If the link doesn't work, copy/paste this URL in the address bar of the browser:

15.2. Comparability - over time

The major events affecting comparability over time are reported in country and table specific notes.

 There is a break in series between 1998 and 1999, when Council Regulation 1172/98 entered into force. Previously the reporting countries only submitted aggregated data to Eurostat.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

The nature of the road freight market differs considerable from that of other transport modes. For example, compared to the rail freight, the road freight market consists of many small operators, own account transport is very common and operators can be active in several countries. For example, in the rail freight the market is still today dominated by one big operator in most countries. Own account rail freight or international direct freight trains are rare exceptions.

On the other hand, road freight statistics cannot be based on observations at stable terminal points, as in the case of port and airport-based statistics of sea and air transport.

The nature of the road freight market therefore determines also the kind of methods than can be used for collecting statistics. In a fragmented market consisting of many small operators, a sample survey seems to be the only alternative, whereas the rail operators can produce the statistics as a "census" of all consignment notes for a given period from their computer systems.

Another particularity of the road freight statistics is that data are collected by nationality of operator on all their activities, in the reporting country and abroad.

For these reasons, road freight statistics are different from those of other transport modes, and the most important characteristics are that the values are estimates based on sample surveys and that each reporting country reports on its hauliers' operations all over the world, not just on the territory of the reporting country.

15.4. Coherence - internal

Since 1999, tables providing a breakdown by group of goods are on European level derived from basic goods transport operations (goods related information/dataset A3) whereas figures in tables without a breakdown by group of goods are derived from journey related information (dataset A2). This may lead to differences between the sum of quarterly figures (tonnes, vkm, tkm) in one table (e.g. goods related data) and the corresponding annual figure in another table for the same variable. More information on this issue is available in the document ROAD_Discrepancies_A2_A3 (If the link doesn't work , copy/paste this URL into the address bar of the browser:

Member States may use different approaches to calculate tonne-kilometres on journey level (based on weights and distances of transported goods). Therefore, depending on the base dataset chosen, the European figures for tonne-kilometres might differ from Member States' corresponding national statistics.

The unit "movements" mentioned in the Annex of the dissemination regulation refers to "Basic transport operations" (BTO) when based on goods related information, whereas it refers to "Journeys" (JRNY) when based on journey related information.

16. Cost and Burden Top

In 2009, 21 Competent National Authorities (CNAs, either national statistical institutes or administrations related to Ministries of Transport) participated in the partner survey as part of Eurostat's rolling review of road freight transport statistics.

The time required to fill in one data observation varies considerably between countries. The partners did not report what one observation represents in each country; therefore, there is the danger of drawing wrong conclusions. Nevertheless, the average time to fill in the data referring to one observation unit (in most countries one vehicle-week, but half a vehicle week in Germany) was typically around one hour. 3 of the 21 partners could not provide any estimate of the required time.

The total number of vehicles in samples has remained almost the same during the period covered in the partner survey (2006-2008), at about 580,000 vehicles per year, in the 21 countries that provided information.

Consequently, 600000 person-hours (80000 person-days) can be used as a careful estimate of the total response burden of the EU road freight statistics in all reporting countries. This would allow estimating the total burden of these statistics at about 5-10 million euro per year.

A small number of CNAs have a picture of the utility that the data compiled for transmission to them represent for the respondents themselves. Five CNAs consider that the data are useful to very few if any respondents for their own business purposes. Three CNAs consider that the data are useful for 20% and 70% of the companies. Two CNAs, which possibly are also among the three afore mentioned ones, report that 10% and 80% of respondents use the compiled data for the purposes of other institutions besides the CNA.

The small number of responses in the partner survey possibly shows that most CNAs do not possess this type of information or, less likely, that they do not understand the question.

The reported figures seem to show that the data reported to CNAs are of little relevance to the respondents. To quote the response of one partner: "The bigger operators have their own IT systems that already hold the data in a format that is useful for them. It is difficult to see any advantage for them in extracting the data, translating it to meet to our requirements and manually transcribing it to a paper questionnaire. The smaller operators will be lower-tech and more informal in their arrangements. Nevertheless, I expect that it is real-time information and the management of accounts that principally concerns them, not the compilation of a week-long statistical report."

 Only four out of the 21 partners send proactively road freight statistics to the vehicle owners selected in their samples. These statistics are a small set of key data selected among the produced statistics. Two of these CNAs send the statistics together with the request for data; the other two send them when the analysis is over.

All other CNAs seem make no distinction between data providers and other users; they either send them data when they receive a relevant request (it is not clear whether they do the same with other users) or they simply disseminate results via their web site and publications addressed to all users.

The collected information gives a partial picture of respondent burden, but does not help us assess whether it is excessive or not. One conclusion was that all CNAs should attempt to obtain an estimation of respondent burden and that they should give respondents some sort of preferential treatment in dissemination of the statistics.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

According to the data transmission rules, the reporting countries are encouraged to update incomplete or revised datasets referring to previous quarters at the same time when they submit new quarterly datasets.

Data are revised on the basis of detected errors. At every revision, the reporting country has to submit the complete set of micro-data of a reference period.

Quality controls of published data are carried out regularly at a very aggregated level. For the most common breakdowns (national and international transport, transport by type of goods etc. measured in tonnes and tonne-kilometres), comparisons are made between years and between the same quarters of different years.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Datasets are "iterated" until at least 99.5% of the vehicle hierarchies (combination of three hierarchical datasets) fulfil the structural requirements and are in line with the code lists.

Time series analyses are carried out to detect outliers, for example in the most commonly used breakdowns of the data.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Data for road freight transport are micro-data obtained through questionnaires sent out by Member States to a sample of hauliers for vehicles registered in their country. These micro-data concern the vehicles themselves, their journeys and the goods that were transported.

Recently several reporting countries have started using electronic questionnaires, either Web based or applying Adobe Acrobat format.

This data collection through sample surveys (geographically and in time) is carried out by National Statistical Institutes or other Competent National Authorities (e.g. Ministries of Transport) in charge of data collection for road freight transport statistics.

The keepers of vehicle registers of the reporting countries frequently submit extractions to the statistical authorities. These extractions are used in sampling and in identifying the contact information of the owners of the vehicles. 

Data on vehicles (dataset A1) are partly extracted from the reporting countries' vehicle registers. Depending on the country, some variables are collected from the owners of the vehicles.

Data on journeys and goods (datasets A2 and A3) are most often based on on-board journals, filled in by the drivers during the survey period. Especially in larger commercial road freight companies, some journey and goods information can be extracted from the database of the company (consignment notes or waybills).

Type of goods and activity of the company are often collected in free text on questionnaires and the statistical authorities re-code the data according to the relevant classifications.

The coding of loading and unloading places is mostly reported as place name (locality) or postal code of the loading and unloading place. The statistical authorities then re-code the loading and unloading places to NUTS-3 regions in the EEA countries and Switzerland. Loading and unloading places outside this area are coded only with country codes.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

The survey is carried out throughout the entire year, see Article 1 of Commission Regulation (EC) 642/2004. Surveys in the reporting countries are continuous and for the larger countries all 13 weeks of each quarter are covered. In smaller countries, at least 7 weeks of each quarter shall be covered by the survey.

 The time period for collecting data on each statistical unit is mostly one week (Germany, one of the biggest reporting countries, collects data during half a week, Finland collects data every 3 to 4 days) the time units covered in a year are mostly 52 weeks (see methodologies used in reporting countries); the quarterly submitted micro-data are extrapolated (grossed up) by Eurostat on the basis of the reported weighting factors to obtain quarterly data.

 Annual data are summed up from the quarterly data.

18.3. Data collection

Data for road freight transport are micro-data obtained through questionnaires sent out by Member States to a sample of hauliers for vehicles registered in their country. These micro-data concern the vehicles themselves, their journeys and the goods that were transported.

 Recently several reporting countries have started using electronic questionnaires, either Web based or applying Adobe Acrobat format.

 Several reporting countries apply sanctions against hauliers who refuse to provide the required data.

18.4. Data validation

1. Since 1999, micro-data from the reporting countries have to be submitted according to Commission Regulation 2163/2001. The data are then verified and validated (detailed validation checks on the level of each data set and between linked data sets (e.g. A1 and A2, A2 and A3), verification of codes used). Detected errors are then reported back to the reporting countries with the request for correction (iterative process until at least 99.5% all data records are loaded completely).

2. Integration and aggregation of correct data into specific intermediary and standard tables.

3. Aggregated data are also compared to national aggregates provided in supplementary tables.

4. Time series checks by reporting country are carried out on aggregated data.

5. Precision calculations according to Commission Regulation 642/2004 are regularly carried out by Eurostat. As this process has been in place only since 1999 it might be, however, that not all data of the previous periods (until 1998) were controlled as properly as the most recent data.

18.5. Data compilation

Aggregates are calculated without Malta, exempted from reporting road freight statistics.

The compilation of European aggregates on the level of origins (places of loading) or destinations (places of unloading) are also produced and published in the tables.

Concerning France, following a partial redesign of the survey in 2020, the calculation of the weighting factors for the vehicles was impacted. This change in the weighting factors affects the final number of vehicles in the different categories by maximum permissible laden weight and load capacity. For the time being, data should be considered as provisional as the redesign exercise is ongoing. This text is also available in the  country and table specific notes loaded in CircaBc.

Certain totals might be different when they are compared with the sum of their components (e.g. summing up the data by axle configuration will give a slightly different result than the total). This is due to the use of 'u' flag, which is applied in the detailed data, whereas in the totals the values marked with 'u' are included.EU aggregates are calculated using the available data, in case the share of the missing data is of low importance compared to the total. 

18.6. Adjustment

The survey is carried out throughout the entire year, there is no seasonal adjustment applied to the road data.

19. Comment Top

The main complexity in using the EU road freight statistics seems to come from the existence of three geographic dimensions:

  • GEO is always the reporting country (where the vehicles are registered)
  • LOAD is the place of loading goods onto the vehicle
  • UNLOAD is the place of unloading goods from the vehicle.

In order to have the total transport between two countries, the data of all reporting countries (GEO) must be taken into account. For example, Polish hauliers may transport goods from the Netherlands to Germany.

The data of one reporting country tells what the operators of this country do everywhere in the world. Consequently, as long as the data are missing from one of the large reporting countries, for example from Germany, the total picture of all EU country-to-country flows is incomplete (countries located close to the missing data are naturally more affected).

Another Frequently Asked Question is related to the internal coherence of journey- and goods-related datasets, dealt with under point 17.2.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top