Agency Information Collection Activities: Request for Comments for Periodic Information Collection
Agency Information Collection Activities: Request for Comments for Periodic Information Collection
Federal Highway Administration
February 19, 2015
[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 33 (Thursday, February 19, 2015)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-03462]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Highway Administration
[Docket No. FHWA-2015-0004]
Agency Information Collection Activities: Request for Comments
for Periodic Information Collection
AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), U.S. Department of
ACTION: Notice of Request for Approval of a New Information Collection
and Request for Comments.
SUMMARY: The FHWA invites the public to comment on our intention to
request the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve a new
(periodic) information collection. This collection is summarized below
under Supplementary Information. We are required to publish this notice
in the Federal Register by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
DATES: Please submit comments by April 20, 2015.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by DOT Docket ID Number
2015-0004 by any of the following methods:
Web site: For access to the docket to read background documents or
comments received, go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting
Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of
Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.
Hand Delivery or Courier: U.S. Department of Transportation, West
Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE.,
Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through
Friday, except Federal holidays.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Adella Santos, 202-366-5021, NHTS
Program Manager, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Policy,1200
New Jersey Avenue, SE., Room E83-426, Washington, DC 20590, Monday
through Friday, except Federal holidays.
Title: 2015 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS).
Type of Request: New request for periodic information collection
Background: Title 23, United States Code, Section 502 authorizes
the USDOT to carry out advanced research and transportation research to
measure the performance of the surface transportation systems in the
US, including the efficiency, energy use, air quality, congestion, and
safety of the highway and intermodal transportation systems. The USDOT
is charged with the overall responsibility to obtain current
information on national patterns of travel, which establishes a data
base to better understand travel behavior, evaluate the use of
transportation facilities, and gauge the impact of the USDOT's policies
The NHTS is the USDOT's authoritative nationally representative
data source for daily passenger travel. This inventory of travel
behavior reflects travel mode (e.g., private vehicles, public
transportation, walk and bike) and trip purpose (e.g., travel to work,
school, recreation, personal/family trips) by U.S. household residents.
Survey results are used by federal and state agencies to monitor the
performance and adequacy of current facilities and infrastructure, and
to plan for future needs.
The collection and analysis of national transportation data has
been of critical importance for nearly half a century. Previous surveys
were conducted in 1969, 1977, 1983, 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2009. The
current survey will be the eighth in this series, and allow
researchers, planners, and officials at the state and federal levels to
monitor travel trends.
Data from the NHTS are widely used to support research needs within
the USDOT, and State and local agencies, in addition to responding to
queries from Congress, the research community and the media on
important issues. Current and recent topics of interest include:
Travel to work patterns by transportation mode for
infrastructure improvements and congestion reduction,
Access to public transit, paratransit, and rail services
by various demographic groups,
Measures of travel by mode to establish exposure rates for
Support for Federal, State, and local planning activities
and policy evaluation,
Active transportation by walk and bike to establish the
relationship to public health issues,
Vehicle usage for energy consumption analysis,
Traffic behavior of specific demographic group such as
Millennials and the aging population.
Within the USDOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) holds
responsibility for technical and funding coordination. The National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Federal Transit
Administration (FTA), and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)
are also primary data users, and have historically participated in
project planning and financial support.
Proposed Data Acquisition Methodology
NHTS data are collected from a stratified random sample of
households that represent a broad range of geographic and demographic
characteristics. Letters and a brief household survey are sent to
selected households requesting some basic demographic and contact
information and inviting them to participate in the survey. The
recruitment surveys are returned in business reply envelopes to the
Participating households are subsequently sent a package containing
travel logs for each member of the household age 5 and older. The
household is assigned to record their travel on a specific day, and
asked to note every trip taken during a 24 hour period. Based upon
their preferences, the travel information is then reported either
through the use of a survey Web site, or through a telephone interview.
Reminders are sent periodically to households who do not respond
within the expected timeframe. Monetary incentives are included in each
recruitment package, and are provided in increasing amounts for all
households that complete the survey.
The survey will collect data during an entire 12 month period so
that all 365 days of the year including weekends and holidays are
accounted for. A total of 26,000 households will comprise the national
sample for the 2015 survey. As described below, changes in the
establishment of the sampling frame, the promotion of participation,
and in data retrieval techniques are planned, as compared to previous
surveys, to improve statistical precision, enhance response rates, and
increase survey efficiency.
Issues Related to Sampling. In previous years, the household sample
was identified using random digit dialing techniques. Today, only 59
percent \1\ have a landline telephone in the home (down from 75% during
the 2009 NHTS) while over 80 percent of U.S. households have access to
the Internet.\2\ This survey will leverage this shift in technology, in
particular the move away from home telephone usage, to structure a
research design that uses web, mail, and telephone data collection
\1\ Blumberg, S.J., and Luke, J.V. (2014). Wireless
substitution: Early release of estimates from the National Health
Interview Survey, July-December 2013. National Center for Health
Statistics. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm.
\2\ Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey,
Select Years, Internet Release date: January 2014.
The revised methodological approach starts with a national address-
based sample (ABS), a change from the telephone-based random digit
dialing (RDD) sample design used in recent NHTS efforts, while also
incorporating core data elements that have been part of the NHTS since
The survey sample will be drawn from the ABS frame maintained by
Marketing Systems Group (MSG). It originates from the U.S. Postal
Service (USPS) Computerized Delivery Sequence file (CDS), and is
updated on a monthly basis. MSG also provides the ability to match some
auxiliary variables (e.g., race/ethnicity, education, household income)
to a set of sampled addresses. MSG geocodes their entire ABS frame, so
block-, block group-, and tract-level characteristics from the
Decennial Census and the American Community Survey (ACS) may be
appended to addresses and used for sampling and/or data collection
Sample Size. A sample size of 26,000 households will be included in
the national sample. Assuming response rates of 30 percent for the
recruitment stage, 65 percent for the retrieval stage, and a residency
rate of 89 percent for sampled addresses, a total of 149,813 sampled
addresses will be required to attain the targeted 26,000 responding
Stratification. This survey produces state-level estimates as well
as national estimates. Assuming equal costs and population variances
across states, the most efficient design for national estimates is one
in which the sample is allocated to the states in proportion to the
size of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population in each state,
and the most efficient design for state-level estimates is one in which
equal sample sizes are allocated to all states. Various allocation
options for the national sample are being considered in order to arrive
at a final allocation for the NHTS national sample.
With the ABS approach, identifying targeted areas (e.g., states)
that correspond to those for which estimates can be developed from the
NHTS data are straightforward. Addresses are definitively linked to
states, so state-level estimation is routine. Geocoding and GIS
processing can be used to link addresses to counties in a highly
reliable fashion. There can be some ambiguity for addresses that are
P.O. boxes or are listed as rural route addresses. These can be handled
in a routine manner with a set of well-defined rules as such addresses
will represent only a small proportion of a state's population. Thus,
no important issues arise in the definition of areas with an ABS sample
design that relies on mail for data collection, as is the case with the
Assignments for recording travel data by sampled households will be
equally distributed across all days to ensure a balanced day of week
distribution. The sample (of recruitment letters to households) will be
released periodically through a process that will control the balance
of travel days by month.
Data Collection Methods
An updated approach to enhancing survey response has been
developed. This includes providing progressive monetary incentives, and
using a mail-out/mail-back recruitment survey. This recruitment survey
is designed to be relevant, aesthetically pleasing, and elicit
participation by including topics of importance to the respondent. Upon
returning the completed recruitment survey, each household member will
be provided with personalized travel logs by mail, and offered the
option of completing the retrieval survey by web using a unique
personal identification number (PIN) or telephone interview.
Information Proposed for Collection
Recruitment. The survey will begin with mailing the sampled
households a short recruitment survey designed to collect key household
information (e.g. enumeration of household members), additional contact
information (e.g. email address and telephone number). This recruitment
survey includes some engaging travel-related opinion or experience
questions considered to be highly relevant to the survey and
interesting to respondents. The initial survey will be accompanied by a
letter from the USDOT, and a Business Reply Envelope.
In the first mail contact, each sampled address will receive a $2
cash incentive. The second mail contact will include the travel log
package sent to each recruited household and a $5 cash incentive and a
promise of an additional $20 for successfully submitting their travel
logs. The incentives paid will be tracked at each of the three levels
To support the mail recruitment approach, the survey contractor
will provide a toll-free number on survey materials and will assist the
recruited participant to provide the required information by telephone
if requested to do so by the participant. A survey Web site will be
established for potential respondents who want to check on the
authenticity of the survey or find out more information. This Web site
will also serve as the portal to the survey.
All returned recruitment surveys will be processed using commercial
off-the-shelf software (COTS) technology. All data collected in the
recruitment survey will be used to populate the household record in the
survey database. As part of the non-response protocol, non-responding
households may also be provided the opportunity to recruit by web. If
respondents call the help desk or use the web to complete, their
responses are collected in the same survey database.
The mail back recruitment approach described here has been tested
and found to be successful in several surveys funded by the Federal
Government (e.g., the National Crime Victimization Survey); these
surveys have proven this method can be implemented with large sample
sizes covering vast geographic regions. This approach has been
developed in response to declining recruitment rates in recent studies.
Retrieval. The NHTS data will be collected from respondents either
from self-reporting via the web, or from professionally trained
interviewers using a computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI)
system. Either approach will be based upon a single database that
allows for sophisticated branching and skip patterns to enhance data
retrieval by asking only those questions that are necessary and
appropriate for the individual participant. Look-up tables are included
to assist with information such as vehicle makes and models. The Google
map UI is used to assist in identifying specific place names and
locations. The location data for the participant's home, workplace, or
school are stored and automatically inserted in the dataset for trips
after the first report. Household rostering is a list of all vehicles
and persons in the household that allows a trip to be reported from one
household member and can include another household member who travel
together to be inserted into the record for the second person. This
automatic insert of information reduces the burden of the second
respondent to be queried about a trip already reported by the initial
Data range, consistency and edit checks are automatically
programmed to reduce reporting error, survey length, and maintain the
flow of information processing. Data cross checks also help reduce the
burden by ensuring that the reporting is consistent within each trip.
Data retrieval is based upon materials provided to participants as
Travel Log Materials
Travel Log Packet. The travel log packet will include a letter, an
exemplar log, and personalized travel logs for each age eligible person
in the household, and will be sent using first class postage in a
6''x9'' envelope. The envelopes will be branded to match the
letterhead used for the invitation letter. The second respondent
incentive will be included with the travel logs. This $5 cash incentive
is expected to serve as a ``good faith'' incentive to encourage
completion of the retrieval survey.
Travel Log Letter. A household letter will be included in the
travel log packet. The letter will further familiarize the participants
with the travel recording stage, identify the households' travel date
and provide details about when and how to complete the retrieval
survey. The letter will also remind participants about the final $20
household incentive. Like the invitation letter, the travel log letter
will be branded.
Travel Logs. A personalized travel log will be provided for each
household member (ages 5 and older). The logs are intended to be a
memory jogger to guide accurate data collection and aid in the
reporting of each place visited on the travel day.
Exemplar Log. Participants will be provided with an exemplar log
with the instructions for recording the details about the places
visited on the travel day.
All web and computer assisted telephone interview (CATI)
instruments will be reviewed for Section 508 compliance using the rules
specified in sections 1194.22--`Web-based intranet and internet
information and applications' and 1194.23--`Telecommunications
products.' All materials will be available in both English and Spanish
language forms. Spanish translations will be developed using industry
standards and will apply reverse-translation protocols.
Estimated Burden Hours For Information Collection
Frequency: This collection will be conducted every 5-7 years.
Respondents. A stratified random sample of 26,000 households across
the 50 states and the District of Columbia will be included in the
survey. Household will include an average of 2.5 members for a total of
65,000 individual respondents to the main survey.
Estimated Average Burden per Response. It will take approximately 5
minutes per household member to complete the recruitment data form, and
20 minutes to complete the retrieval survey. This results in a total of
25 minutes per household member.
Total Annual Burden Hours. It is estimated that a total of 65,000
persons will be included in the survey. This would result in
approximately 27,083 hours of support for this data collection effort.
Public Comments Invited
You are asked to comment on any aspect of this information
collection, including: (1) Whether the proposed collection of
information is necessary for the USDOT's performance, including whether
the information will have practical utility; (2) the data acquisition
methods; (3) the accuracy of the USDOT's estimate of the burden of the
proposed information collection; (4) the types of data being acquired;
(5) ways to enhance the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the
collected information; and (6) ways that the burden could be minimized
without reducing the quality of the collected information. The agency
will summarize and/or include your comments in the request for OMB's
clearance of this information collection.
Authority: The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; 44 U.S.C.
Chapter 35, as amended; and 49 CFR 1.48.
Dated: February 13, 2015.
Information Collection Officer, Federal Highway Administration.
[FR Doc. 2015-03462 Filed 2-18-15; 8:45 am]
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