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CSO statistical release, , 11am

Road Freight Transport Survey


 20142015% change
   Tonnes carried (thousand)112,499118,0594.9%
Tonne-km (million)9,7729,8440.7%
Vehicle kilometres (million)1,3071,302-0.4%
      Average number of vehicles83,65087,0944.1%
  Laden journeys (thousand)10,09410,2791.8%

Road freight tonnage increased by 4.9% in 2015

Figure 1: Tonnes carried 2011-2015
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Key results for 2015

  • In 2015, the quantity of goods transported by road increased by 4.9% to 118.1 million tonnes, while the number of vehicle kilometres travelled by Irish registered goods vehicles fell slightly by 0.4% and remained at 1.3 billion kilometres.   See table A.
  • Between 2014 and 2015, the amount of freight activity by Irish registered goods vehicles remained virtually unchanged at 9.8 billion tonne-kilometres (tonne-km).
  • The average number of registered goods vehicles in 2015 increased by 4.1% to an estimated 87,100 vehicles.  This is the largest fleet since 2009 when 87,600 vehicles were registered.
  • In 2015, freight activity by vehicles used for hire or reward decreased by 1.4% to 7.5 billion tonne-km.  For own account operators freight activity increased by 8.3% to 2.3 billion tonne-km when compared with 2014. See table K.
  • The quantity of goods carried by businesses owned by transport companies increased by 2.7% to 67.0 million tonnes in 2015, while the amount of goods carried by all other businesses rose by 8.1% to 51.1 million tonnes.
Table A: Key road freight statistics, 2005-2015
YearTonne-km   Tonnes carriedVehicle kilometres      Average number of vehicles  Laden journeys

Main use of vehicle

Vehicles used for hire or reward performed 76.3% of total road freight activity, amounting to 7.5 billion tonne-km in 2015. These vehicles carried 75.7 million tonnes and travelled a total of 769 million vehicle kilometres during 2015. Vehicles used for own account purposes accounted for 2.3 billion tonne-km (23.7%) of total activity, and travelled a total of 533 million vehicle kilometres, carrying 42.3 million tonnes of goods. See tables B and 1.

Table B: Road freight activity by main use of vehicle, 2015
Main use of vehicleTonne-kmTonnes carriedVehicle kilometres
Hire or reward7,51076.3%75,74064.2%76959.1%
Own account2,33423.7%42,31935.8%53340.9%

Business of Owner

Vehicles owned by transport companies carried 67.0 million tonnes of goods in 2015 compared with 51.1 million tonnes carried by all other goods vehicles. Although carrying a greater quantity of goods, vehicles owned by transport companies travelled slightly more, covering 662 million vehicle kilometres compared with 641 million for all other goods vehicles. Vehicles in the transport sector accounted for almost 4,000 (38.9%) of all laden journeys compared with just under 6,300 for all other goods vehicles. See tables C and 3.

Table C: Road freight activity by business of owner, 2015
Business of ownerTonne-km  Tonnes carriedVehicle kilometresLaden journeys

Size of vehicles in Fleet

In 2015, seven in ten (68.7%) of the total fleet of 87,094 vehicles had an unladen weight of between 2 to 5 tonnes.  However, these vehicles were responsible for just 4.0% of the total weight of goods transported and 2.8% of total activity in terms of tonne-km. Vehicles with an unladen weight of 10 tonnes or more accounted for less than one fifth (19.8%) of the vehicle fleet, but were responsible for 89.4% of total activity in terms of tonne-km. These vehicles carried 102.7 million tonnes of goods, representing 87.0% of the total tonnes carried, and they made over half (53.3%) of all laden journeys. See tables D and 3.

Table D: Road freight activity by unladen weight of vehicle, 2015
Unladen weight (tonnes)Tonne-kmTonnes carriedNo. of vehiclesLaden journeys
2 - 52742.84,7424.059,82968.73,25131.6
5 - 7.52002.02,7842.44,8695.66136.0
7.5 - 105655.77,8586.75,1215.99379.1
10 - 12.52,61926.634,97329.67,2088.32,08620.3
Over 12.56,18662.867,70357.310,06711.63,39233.0

Age of Fleet

Vehicles manufactured in the four years to 2015 (2012-2015) accounted for almost one fifth (19.7%) of the goods vehicle fleet in 2015. These vehicles carried 21.6% of all goods and accounted for 31.8% of overall road freight activity (tonne-km). Over one third of all vehicles (34.5%) were aged 10 years or more and they carried 29.3% of all goods. See tables E, 10 and 11.

Table E: Road freight activity by age of vehicle, 2015
Year of manufactureTonne-kmTonnes carriedVehicle kilometresNo. of vehicles
2005 or before2,08121.134,61729.330923.730,05334.5

Length of Haul

In 2015, the bulk of road freight activity as measured by tonne-km (86.3%) was carried out over distances greater than 50 kilometres. A total of 56.2 million tonnes of goods (47.6%) was transported over these longer distances, covering 732 million vehicle kilometres. For distances of 50 km and less, the total amount of goods carried was greater (61.9 million tonnes) but they represented just 13.7% of the overall activity, as measured by tonne-km. See tables F and 5.

Table F: Road freight activity by length of haul, 2015
Length of haulTonne-kmTonnes carriedVehicle kilometres
Up to 10 km961.014,74812.545635.0
11 - 25 km4124.223,53319.9393.0
26 - 50 km8428.623,57620.0755.8
51 - 150 km2,97130.234,70029.427721.3
151 - 500 km4,22142.920,03117.036528.0
Over 500 km1,30313.21,4701.2906.9

Commodity Transported

Of the total total weight of goods carried, the commodity group quarry products, metal ores and peat accounted for the largest share (22.9% or 27.0 million tonnes) in 2015. This was followed by foodstuffs at 19.2% (22.7 million tonnes). However, the contribution of quarry products, metal ores and peat to overall road freight activity, in terms of tonne-km, was just 9.4%, reflecting heavier loads carried over shorter distances. In contrast, foodstuffs accounted for 27.7% of total tonne-km. See tables G, 8 and 9.

Table G: Road freight activity by commodity group carried, 2015
CommodityTonne-kmTonnes carriedVehicle kilometres
Products of agriculture, forestry and fishing1,16913,28376
Coal and natural gas777526
Quarry products, metal ores and peat92627,04947
Textiles and leather12381616
Wood, pulp and paper4804,39040
Coke and refined petroleum products85710,69048
Chemicals and plastics4413,93538
Other non-metallic mineral products67315,35052
Metal products (except machinery and equipment)2091,72519
Machinery and equipment1991,57931
Furniture and other manufactured goods11493732
Secondary raw materials and waste2904,28326
Other goods1,56410,618635

Main type of work carried out

Goods vehicles involved in the delivery of goods to road works or building sites carried 32.6 million tonnes of road freight in 2015, which was the highest among all types of work carried out by goods vehicles. This was followed by those involved in the delivery of goods to retail outlets (13.8 million tonnes) and the delivery of materials and fuels to factories (13.1 million tonnes). See figure 2 and table 6.

Type of workTonnes
Import/export work11860000
Carriage of livestock1375000
Carriage of other farm produce from farms5753000
Carriage of fertilisers, feeding stuffs, etc. to farms6126000
Delivery of goods to road works or building sites 32556000
Delivery of goods to retail outlets13808000
Delivery of goods to wholesalers10029000
Delivery of materials and fuels to factories13129000
Delivery of goods to households3536000
Other work19888000

In terms of overall road freight activity in 2015 vehicles involved in import/export work (2.3 billion tonne-km) were the largest contributors, representing almost one quarter (23.7%) of total tonne-km. This was followed by those involved in the delivery of goods to retail outlets (14.6%).  See figure 3 and table 6.

Type of work%
Import/export work23.7
Carriage of livestock1.2
Carriage of other farm produce from farms4
Carriage of fertilisers, feeding stuffs, etc. to farms4.1
Delivery of goods to road works or building sites 9.8
Delivery of goods to retail outlets14.6
Delivery of goods to wholesalers11.7
Delivery of materials and fuels to factories11.5
Delivery of goods to households2
Other work17.4

National and international road freight activity

The vast majority of the 118.1 million tonnes of goods transported by Irish goods vehicles in 2015 was carried out within the Republic of Ireland. National transport accounted for 94.2% (111.2 million tonnes) of the total, with international transport representing the remainder. In terms of overall road freight activity, as expressed by tonne-km, the difference was not quite as significant, with just under eighty percent (78.3%) of activity carried out within the national territory.  See tables H, 2, 7 and 9.

Table H: National and international road freight activity in 2015
Type of transportTonne-kmTonnes carried

Dublin was the region of origin for just over one quarter (26.2%) of all goods carried within the national territory. The South-West and South-East followed with 16.6% and 14.1% respectively. See tables I and 14.

 Table I: Domestic transport activity1 classified by region of origin, 2015
RegionTonne-kmTonnes carried
1Domestic transport activity excludes Northern Ireland and Other countries in Table 14

In 2015, the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland) was the major source/destination region for the transport of goods to and from the Republic of Ireland. In total, 4.7 million tonnes of goods were transported, with a total of 2.1 million tonnes received and 2.6 million tonnes dispatched from the Republic of Ireland to the UK. See tables J and 15.

Table J: Tonnes of goods received and dispatched to and from the Republic of Ireland by country, 2015
CountryTonnage received Tonnage dispatched Total tonnage
thousand% thousand% thousand%
United Kingdom2,06288.4 2,64489.9 4,70689.2
(of which Northern Ireland)72331.0 87829.9 1,60130.4
France522.2 903.1 1422.7
Netherlands843.6 481.6 1322.5
Germany482.1 461.6 941.8
Italy321.4 401.4 721.4
Spain180.8 140.5 320.6
Other Countries361.5 592.0 951.8
Total2,333100.0 2,941100.0 5,274100.0

Comparison with 2014 Results

The weight of goods carried by road on Irish registered vehicles increased by 4.9% to 118.1 million tonnes between 2014 and 2015. The weight of goods carried by vehicles owned by transport companies increased by 2.7% to 67.0 million tonnes, while the share of goods transported by vehicles owned by transport companies decreased from 58.0% in 2014 to 56.7% in 2015. Overall road freight activity, as measured by tonne-km, rose marginally but remained at 9.8 billion. The largest increase in the weight of goods (21.4%) occurred for vehicles involved in the carriage of other farm produce from farms, while the largest decrease occurred for vehicles involved in the delivery of goods to households where the weight of goods carried fell by 12.0% in 2015. See table K.    

Table K: Road freight activity, a comparison between 2014 and 2015
CategoryTonne-km  Tonnes carried
20142015Change 20142015Change
 millionmillion% thousandthousand%
Total9,7729,8440.7 112,499118,0594.9
Business of owner       
Transport 6,9696,863-1.5 65,24066,9742.7
Other2,8032,9816.4 47,26051,0858.1
Main use of vehicle       
Hire or reward7,6167,510-1.4 74,44875,7401.7
Own account2,1562,3348.3 38,05242,31911.2
National 7,6747,7070.4 106,214111,1914.7
International2,0982,1371.9 6,2856,8679.3
Main type of work        
Import/export work2,3502,335-0.6 11,80811,8600.4
Carriage of livestock118116-1.7 1,3021,3755.6
Carriage of other farm produce from farms31739223.7 4,7385,75321.4
Carriage of fertilisers, feeding stuffs, etc. to farms461404-12.4 6,5306,126-6.2
Delivery of goods to road works or building sites975965-1.0 31,12132,5564.6
Delivery of goods to retail outlets1,5581,433-8.0 14,80113,808-6.7
Delivery of goods to wholesalers1,0631,1548.6 8,78910,02914.1
Delivery of materials and fuels to factories9861,12914.5 10,94913,12919.9
Delivery of goods to households220199-9.5 4,0163,536-12.0
Other work1,7251,716-0.5 18,44519,8887.8

Detailed Tables

Table 1 Transport activity classified by business of owner and main use of vehicle, 2015
Business of owner of vehicleTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
Transport06,8636,863 066,97466,974
Manufacturing industry7230723 18,120018,120
 Mining & quarrying (incl. sand & gravel merchants)1990199 7,67507,675
 Creameries & agricultural cooperative societies25025 3180318
 Manufacture of food & feeding stuffs1610161 2,21102,211
 Manufacture of drink & tobacco303 34034
 Manufacture of glass, cement & clay products2070207 6,60206,602
 Other manufacturing1280128 1,28001,280
Building & construction67067 1,52701,527
Distribution1,1445031,647 15,5417,17922,720
Agriculture & livestock dealing13249181 1,8914072,298
Local authorities67067 1,76901,769
Other20096295 3,4701,1804,650
Total2,3347,5109,844 42,31975,740118,059
Table 2 Transport activity classified by vehicle capacity, national/international journeys and main use of vehicle, 2015
Type of journey and vehicle capacityTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
National journeys       
vehicle capacity (kg)       
Up to 5,00076461221,5645332,096
5,001 - 10,0008275157 1,8391,0102,850
10,001 - 15,00086101187 1,5721,1862,758
15,001 - 20,000310248558 7,0644,82411,888
20,001 - 25,00073207280 1,3072,5933,900
25,001 - 35,0008682,3963,263 19,18833,68152,869
Over 35,0007242,4163,140 8,94425,88734,831
International journeys       
vehicle capacity (kg)       
Up to 5,000213 14519
5,001 - 10,000246 112536
10,001 - 15,00021719 305282
15,001 - 20,00084351 95126221
20,001 - 25,0007123130 12224236
25,001 - 35,00038893932 3862,7833,169
Over 35,00056941996 2952,8113,106
All journeys       
Vehicle capacity (kg)       
Up to 5,0007847125 1,5775382,115
5,001 - 10,0008480163 1,8501,0352,885
10,001 - 15,00088118206 1,6021,2382,840
15,001 - 20,000318291609 7,1594,95012,108
20,001 - 25,00080330410 1,3192,8174,136
25,001 - 35,0009063,2894,195 19,57436,46356,037
Over 35,0007803,3564,136 9,23928,69837,937
Table 3 Transport activity classified by business of owner, unladen weight and main use of vehicle, 2015
Business of owner and unladen weight of vehicleTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
Unladen weight (kg)       
2,000 - 5,00006666 0769769
5,001 - 7,50008383 0900900
7,501 - 10,0000307307 03,5983,598
10,001 - 12,50001,8481,848 019,94019,940
Over 12,50004,5594,559 041,76641,766
Total06,8636,863 066,97466,974
Other businesses       
Unladen weight (kg)       
2,000 - 5,00016049208 3,3785943,972
5,001 - 7,5009226117 1,6312541,884
7,501 - 10,00021741258 3,7874724,259
10,001 - 12,500599172771 12,5752,45815,033
Over 12,5001,2663601,626 20,9484,98925,936
Total2,3346472,981 42,3198,76651,085
All businesses       
Unladen weight (kg)       
2,000 - 5,0001601152743,3781,3634,742
5,001 - 7,500921082001,6311,1532,784
7,501 - 10,0002173485653,7874,0707,858
10,001 - 12,5005992,0202,61912,57522,39834,973
Over 12,5001,2664,9196,18620,94846,75567,703
Total2,3347,5109,844 42,31975,740118,059
Table 4 Transport activity classified by region of origin1 and main use of vehicle, 2015
Region of originTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
Total2,3347,5109,844 42,31975,740118,059
1 See Appendix A       
Table 5 Transport activity classified by business of owner, length of haul and main use of vehicle, 2015
Business of owner of vehicle and length of haulTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
Length of haul (km)       
Up to 100434306,8336,833
Over 50001,1921,19201,3161,316
Total06,8636,863 066,97466,974
Other businesses       
Length of haul (km)       
Up to 1045753 6,7161,2007,916
11-2518435218 10,5621,91012,471
26-5031754371 9,1461,57010,716
51-1508552481,103 10,9822,86513,847
151-5008942311,125 4,8531,1285,981
Over 5003972111 6193154
Total2,3346472,981 42,3198,76651,085
All businesses       
Length of haul (km)       
Up to 10455196 6,7168,03214,748
11-25184228412 10,56212,97223,533
26-50317525842 9,14614,43023,576
51-1508552,1152,971 10,98223,71834,700
151-5008943,3284,221 4,85315,17820,031
Over 500391,2641,303 611,4101,470
Total2,3347,5109,844 42,31975,740118,059
Table 6 Transport activity classified by main type of work and main use of vehicle, 2015
Main type of work done by vehicle Tonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
Import/export work1552,2802,33539711,46311,860
Carriage of livestock41751165997761,375
Carriage of other farm produce from farms1192733921,7903,9635,753
Carriage of fertilisers, feeding stuffs etc. to farms1062994041,8724,2546,126
Delivery of goods to road works or building sites45151496516,46016,09632,556
Delivery of goods to retail outlets4331,0001,4334,9778,83113,808
Delivery of goods to wholesalers2309251,1542,1917,83810,029
Delivery of materials and fuels to factories1759541,1292,71610,41313,129
Delivery of goods to households148511992,9326043,536
Other work5761,1401,7168,38711,50119,888
Total2,3347,5109,844 42,31975,740118,059
1Includes work done to and from ports as well as roll-on/roll-off and cross-border work
Table 7 Transport activity classified by national/international journeys and main use of vehicle, 2015
Type of journeyTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
National journeys2,2195,4897,70741,47769,714111,191
International journeys1152,0222,137 8426,0256,867
 Goods loaded in Ireland657858514622,4782,941
 Goods unloaded in Ireland346536873122,0212,333
 Cross trade13534548409671,007
Total journeys2,3347,5109,844 42,31975,740118,059
Table 8 Transport activity classified by group of goods and national/international journeys, 2015
Group of goods (NST 2007)Tonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
NationalInternationalTotal NationalInternationalTotal
journeys journeys journeys journeys
Products of agriculture, forestry & fishing9512181,169 12,47980413,283
Coal & natural gas522577 590162752
Quarry products, metal ores & peat86660926 26,47157827,049
Foodstuffs1,8898332,722 20,5512,10022,651
Textiles & leather11310123 77937816
Wood, pulp & paper42258480 4,0383524,390
Coke & refined petroleum products80255857 10,28140910,690
Chemicals & plastics311130441 3,6233123,935
Other non-metallic mineral products59380673 14,91743315,350
Metal products (exc. machinery & equipment)14070209 1,4412841,725
Machinery & equipment13267199 1,4431371,579
Furniture & other manufactured goods8629114 85087937
Secondary raw materials & waste2882290 4,264194,283
Other goods1,0635011,564 9,4631,15410,618
Total7,7072,1379,844 111,1916,867118,059
Table 9 Transport activity classified by group of goods and main use of vehicle, 2015
Group of goods (NST 2007)Tonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
OwnHire orTotal OwnHire orTotal
accountreward accountreward
Products of agriculture, forestry & fishing2948751,1693,8429,44113,283
Coal & natural gas324477446305752
Quarry products, metal ores & peat39752992613,20413,84527,049
Textiles & leather3191123304513816
Wood, pulp & paper494314805613,8304,390
Coke & refined petroleum products3575008574,6146,07610,690
Chemicals & plastics463954415643,3713,935
Other non-metallic mineral products2464276737,6157,73515,350
Metal products (exc. machinery & equipment)421682094321,2921,725
Machinery & equipment51148199 6719091,579
Furniture & other manufactured goods3678114392546937
Secondary raw materials & waste149141290 2,4231,8604,283
Other goods1111,4531,564 1,5379,08110,618
Total2,3347,5109,844 42,31975,740118,059
Table 10 Average number of vehicles classified by unladen weight and year of manufacture of vehicle, 2015
Year of manufacture of vehicleUnladen weight (kg)Total
2,000 -5,001 -7,501 -10,001 -Over
2005 or before19,0202,7642,5113,1452,61430,053
Table 11 Transport activity classified by year of manufacture and main use of vehicle, 2015
Year of manufacture of vehicleTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
2015136565701 1,9834,0666,049
2014208618825 2,4694,5627,030
2005 or before5641,5172,08113,13821,48034,617
Table 12 Transport activity classified by body type and main use of vehicle, 2015
Type of vehicle and body type Tonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
Platform or sided806957757546,4187,172 
Tanker or other bulk carrier3489991,3484,44912,28016,729
Insulated or refrigerated box2291,4501,6791,6746,3878,061
Box or van body1406317711,2473,8455,092
Livestock carrier237699279442720
Rigid/Rigid with trailer       
Platform or sided95891841,9121,6663,578
Tanker or other bulk carrier237362734,1976734,871
Insulated or refrigerated box84561401,2555641,819
Box or van body1311793111,8121,8103,622
Livestock carrier233962361411772
All vehicles      
Platform or sided1757849592,6668,08410,750
Tanker or other bulk carrier5851,0351,6208,64612,95421,600
Insulated or refrigerated box3131,5061,8192,9286,9519,880
Box or van body2718101,0813,0605,6558,715
Livestock carrier461151616408521,492
Table 13 Transport activity classified by national/international journeys, axle configuration and main use of vehicle, 2015
Type of journey and axle configurationTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
National journeys       
2 axle3162535695,9302,9938,923
3 axle2991003995,7401,9957,735
Other rigid37135772912,95612,03624,993
Rigid + trailer38761146349001,534
3 axle103949193316509
4 axle1442313763,1023,9367,039
5 axle4861,6542,1395,37016,27021,639
Other articulated5542,7783,3337,55131,26838,819
International journeys       
2 axle815237161132
3 axle9413801594
Other rigid510169855153
Rigid + trailer3272913103116
3 axle257152640
4 axle6404696201298
5 axle29949978931,9592,052
Other articulated539711,0243773,6063,982
All journeys       
2 axle3242685936,0013,0549,055
3 axle3071044115,8192,0107,829
Other rigid37736874413,05412,09125,145
Rigid + trailer411031436471,0031,650
3 axle124456208342550
4 axle1502724223,1994,1387,336
5 axle5152,6033,1185,46218,22923,691
Other articulated6083,7494,3577,92834,87442,802
Table 14 Transport activity classified by region of origin and region of destination, 2015
Region of origin1Region of destination1Total
Tonne-km (million)
Northern Ireland2554186216214899
Other countries801227253381111970185591,187
 Tonnes Carried (thousand)
Northern Ireland460242711426562414011874
Other countries52648825329313210107221,4213,053
1See Appendix A
Table 15 Transport activity classified by country of origin and country of destination, 2015
Country of originCountry of destinationTotal
FranceGermanyIrelandItalyNetherlandsSpainUnited KingdomOther EUOther countries1
 Tonne-km (million)
United Kingdom19113809103209320673
Other EU1082914449167128
Other countries1001000060016
 Tonnes carried (thousand)
United Kingdom37122,06271421,0862803,248
Other EU11142914343254134
Other countries100700040213
1Includes any country which is not a member state of the EU

Background Notes

Survey Methodology


This report contains the results of the "National Survey of Transport of Goods by Road" which is conducted on a weekly basis throughout the year.

Legal framework

This is a statutory survey conducted under the Statistics (Road Freight) Order, 2012 (SI No 583 of 2012) to meet Ireland’s EU requirements under Council Regulation (EC) 70/2012 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road.

Scope of the survey

This report covers the survey period beginning the first week of January 2015 and ending the last week of December 2015. Irish registered vehicles that come within the scope of the survey must meet the following criteria:

  1. belong to the motor taxation class ‘Goods Vehicles’
  2. have a valid motor tax disk during the relevant survey week. However, in practice, as the survey sample was selected several weeks before the survey week, vehicles where the motor tax had expired no more than three months previously were also included in the scope.
  3. have an unladen weight of two tonnes and over
  4. have a vehicular body type appropriate for carrying freight (see appendix B for a list of vehicular types that have been excluded).

No other vehicles are covered. In particular this means that vehicles in other motor taxation classes such as agricultural tractors, general haulage tractors, dumpers and exempt vehicles (i.e. vehicles exempt from liability to pay road tax which includes state owned, diplomatic, fire services or disabled drivers) are not included in the survey.

All activity of goods vehicles within the scope of the survey engaged in the carriage of goods on the public road, either on own account or for hire or reward, are covered.  Excluded, therefore, is activity such as site work off the public road or work of a mainly service nature (e.g. carriage of personnel to or from places of work). 

Sampling frame

The sampling frame for the Survey comes from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s database on vehicles taxed as goods vehicles.

The sampling frame/register is updated every eight weeks during the year with information from the Department regarding vehicles:

  1. being registered for the first time
  2. having their motor taxation class changed
  3. being formally scrapped
  4. having their registered owner changed. 

The information required of each vehicle on the register for survey purposes is as follows:

a)    year of manufacture of the vehicle

b)    date of first registration of the vehicle

c)    an indication as to whether the vehicle has been taxed for the carriage of goods on own account or for hire or reward

d)    the unladen weight of the vehicle

e)    name and address of the person on whose name the vehicle was most recently taxed (referred to as the owner of the vehicle in the following paragraphs).


The results are published on an annual basis.

Sample Design

Information is collected in respect of one week’s transport activity for a random sample of goods vehicles.   Every week a sample of vehicles is selected from the register. A survey questionnaire is then issued to the registered owners of these vehicles by post, seeking information on the vehicle and an account of the vehicle’s activity during that week. For the purposes of sample selection, vehicles are divided into 20 strata.  These strata were created on the basis of four criteria:

  • the unladen weight of the vehicle
  • year of first registration of the vehicle
  • whether the vehicle had been taxed for the carriage of goods on own account or for hire or reward
  • year of manufacture.

See Table L


Response Rates

Out of a total of 28,855 vehicles surveyed, a satisfactory return was received in respect of 15,380 vehicles, representing an overall response rate of 53.3%.  However, this rate varied across the differing survey strata.  Response rates broken down by the unladen weight and the year of manufacture of vehicle are presented in Table M.

See Table M


Changes to Commodity Classification

In 2007, the standard goods classification for transport statistics, NST/R, was revised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).  A new version, NST 2007, was introduced to be consistent with the revised NACE (Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community).  This new goods classification came into force in 2008.

Accordingly, the goods commodities collected in the “National Survey of Transport of Goods by Road” have been revised in line with this new goods classification, effective from 2009 onwards. Unfortunately, this revision means that the results by commodity in this publication for 2015 are not directly comparable with 2008 or previous years.


Reliability of Results

Estimation of survey results from data relating to only one week’s activity for a sample of vehicles introduces a statistical variability which would not be present if a full year’s data had been collected for every vehicle. This means that the survey results cannot be taken as accurate to the full degree shown in this report.

This variability is expressed by means of the coefficient of variation. This coefficient gives the relative size of the “sampling error” (variability) present in an estimate compared with the estimate itself. In general, estimates can be said to have a relative precision of twice their coefficient of variation. The estimated coefficients of variation for the overall tonnes carried, tonne-kilometres and vehicle kilometres estimates are shown in Table N below.

In general, the more detailed the classification provided the greater the coefficient of variation of the estimates.  In the derivation of the results the assumption is made that non-respondents have similar characteristics and activity levels to those of respondents in the same stratification cell.  This assumption, which is a standard one in surveys such as this, may result in some degree of bias being introduced into the results. Moreover, although every effort is made to ensure that the returns received are correct in all respects it is inevitable that some minor non-sampling errors remain undetected.

The totals in the tables may not always add up due to rounding. 

See Table N


Definitions Used

Type of Journey

Two basic categories of journey are distinguished – split delivery/collection journeys and end-to-end journeys.

  • End-to-end journeys are those which have no intermediate collection or delivery points between their origin and destination.

  • Split delivery/collection journeys involve the depositing and/or collection of part of the load carried at one or more stopping points along the way. A common example of such a journey would be the delivery of beer to public houses and the collection of empties.

Tonnes Carried

  • This is the weight of goods (including empties) carried inclusive of packaging etc. but excluding the weight of demountable containers (if any) in which the goods are carried.

  • For split delivery/collection journeys tonnes carried are taken as the weight of goods at the start of the journey plus the weight of any other goods collected during the journey.

Tonne-Kilometres (tonne-km)

  • For end-to-end journeys this is the result of multiplying the weight of goods carried by the distance they were carried.

  • For split delivery/collection journeys more complex formulae were used.  These involved multiplying the distance travelled with a load by an estimate of the average weight of load carried.

National Transport

National transport is the carriage of goods by road by Irish registered goods vehicles between two places (a place of loading/embarkment and a place of unloading/disembarkment) both of which are located in the Republic of Ireland.


Appendix A

NUTS2 and NUTS3 Regions

The regional classifications in this release are based on the NUTS (Nomenclature of Territorial Units) classification used by Eurostat.  The NUTS3 regions correspond to the eight Regional Authorities established under the Local Government Act, 1991 (Regional Authorities) (Establishment) Order, 1993, which came into operation on 1 January 1994. The NUTS2 regions, which were proposed by Government and agreed by Eurostat in 1999, are groupings of the NUTS3 regions. The composition of the regions is set out below.

Border: Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo.

Midland: Laois, Longford, Offaly, and Westmeath.

West: Galway City and County, Mayo and Roscommon.

Dublin: Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal, and South Dublin.

Mid-East: Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.

Mid-West: Limerick City and County, Clare and North Tipperary.

South-East: Waterford City and County, Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary and Wexford.

South-West: Cork City and County and County of Kerry.

See Appendix B below.


upArrowHide Background Notes
Table L: Sampling proportions by age and unladen weight of vehicle, 2015
Year of manufactureUnladen weightTotal
2 - 5 tonnes5 - 10 tonnes10 tonnes
and over
Sampling proportion %
Before 20078559333
2007 - 201015768534
After 201018647932
Table M: Response rates by age and unladen weight of vehicle, 2015
Year of manufactureUnladen weight Total
2 - 5 tonnes 5 - 10 tonnes 10 tonnes and over 
Forms% Forms% Forms% Forms%
 issuedResponse  issuedResponse  issuedResponse  issuedResponse
Before 20072,10265.9 3,57855.4 7,50646.0 13,18651.7
2007 - 20102,77766.1 1,78654.4 4,24045.4 8,80353.7
After 20102,79564.1 73953.9 3,33249.2 6,86655.8
Total7,67465.3 6,10354.9 15,07846.5 28,85553.3
Table N: Accuracy indicators for road freight activity, 2015
Unladen weight (tonnes)Tonne-km Tonnes carried Vehicle kilometres
SurveyCoefficient SurveyCoefficient SurveyCoefficient
estimateof variation estimateof variation estimateof variation
million% thousand% million%
2 - 527410.1 4,7428.0 3322.4
5 - 7.52004.9 2,7843.8 672.1
7.5 - 105654.0 7,8583.9 1111.8
10 - 12.52,6192.0 34,9732.3 2701.1
Over 12.56,1861.4 67,7031.5 5220.8
Total9,8441.1 118,0591.1 1,3020.8
Appendix B: Goods vehicle category types
CodeBody typeGoods vehicle population1 2015
AllSurvey scope
2Station wagon/jeep8820
7Open lorry & container161161
8Open lorry only1,1131,113
13Travelling machine/workshop360
14Mobile shop890
22Low loader2828
24Concrete mixer/concrete pump191191
25Horse box/animal transporter1,1091,109
30Refuse collector620620
31Gritter/chip spreader10
48Pick up692692
49Motor caravan00
50Van with side windows5959
51Other light goods5252
52Box van2,5062,506
53Luton van387387
54Insulated/refrigerated van981981
55Glass carrier99
56Other van1515
58Drop-side lorry691691
59Hopper truck11
60Recovery vehicle1480
61Solid bulk carrier1414
63Car transporter5858
64Other goods heavy3,3143,314
69Road maintenance vehicle70
70Road tar sprayer20
71Road marking machine10
75Articulated tractor unit11,63811,638
82Crew cab12,34712,347
85Well driller/drilling machine10
86Curtain sider1,2351,235
88Skip loader243243
89Telescopic handler20
90Drain cleaner50
91Security van/truck8888
95Chassis cab6,2406,240
1 This annual population estimate is an average of four quarterly population estimates. Vehicles under two tonnes unladen weight or with motor tax expired for more than 3 months are not included in these estimates.

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