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CSO statistical release, 07 September 2017, 11am

Road Freight Transport Survey


 20152016% change
Tonne-km (million)9,84411,56417.5%
Tonnes carried (thousand)118,059141,66920.0%
Vehicle kilometres (million)1,3021,55819.7%
Average number of vehicles87,09498,65613.3%
Laden journeys (thousand)10,27912,09017.6%

Road freight activity close to 2009 levels

Figure 1: Tonnes carried 2007-2016
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  • All key road freight indicators increased substantially in 2016. The number of goods vehicles was up 13.3%. Laden journeys increased by 17.6%. Tonnes carried increased by 20.0%, vehicle kilometres by 19.7% and tonne-kilometres by 17.5%. See table A.
  • In 2016, there were 98,656 goods vehicles (over 2 tonnes unladen weight) on the roads. This was an increase of 13.3% on 2015. The number of larger vehicles over 10 tonnes unladen weight grew by 18.1% in the year. See table D.
  • Vehicles over 10 tonnes unladen weight accounted for one fifth of the overall fleet in 2016, but carried the lion’s share of road freight activity. They accounted for 54.3% of all laden journeys, 86.7% of tonnes carried and 88.4% of tonne-kilometres.
  • In 2016, a total of 141.7 million tonnes of goods was transported by road. This was the highest level recorded since 2009 when 148.3 million tonnes were carried, but was still well below the peak figure of 299.3 million tonnes carried in 2007. See table A.
  • The distance covered by road freight transport was 1,558 million kilometres in 2016.
  • Activity measured as weight by distance, or tonne-kilometres, reached 11,564 million tonne-kilometres in 2016. Again, this was close to the 2009 level of 12,071 million tonne-kilometres but considerably below the 2007 peak in the series.
  • The type of work showing the greatest annual increase in tonnes carried in 2016 was Delivery of goods to road works or building sites. This category includes many building materials such as sand, gravel, cement and concrete. See table K.
Table A: Key road freight statistics, 2006-2016
YearTonne-km   Tonnes carriedVehicle kilometres      Average number of vehicles  Laden journeys

Main use of vehicle

Vehicles used for hire or reward performed 76.8% of total road freight activity, amounting to 8.9 billion tonne-km in 2016. These vehicles carried 92.6 million tonnes and travelled a total of 928 million vehicle kilometres during 2016. Vehicles used for own account purposes accounted for 2.7 billion tonne-km (23.2%) of total activity, and travelled a total of 630 million vehicle kilometres, carrying 49.1 million tonnes of goods. See tables B and 1.

Table B: Road freight activity by main use of vehicle, 2016
Main use of vehicleTonne-kmTonnes carriedVehicle kilometres
Hire or reward8,88376.8%92,61565.4%92859.6%
Own account2,68123.2%49,05434.6%63040.4%

Business of owner

Vehicles owned by transport companies carried 87.0 million tonnes of goods in 2016 compared with 54.7 million tonnes by all other goods vehicles. Vehicles in the transport sector accounted for 5,163 (42.7%) of all laden journeys. See tables C and 3.

Table C: Road freight activity by business of owner, 2016
Business of ownerTonne-km  Tonnes carriedVehicle kilometresLaden journeys

Size of vehicles in fleet

In 2016, seven in ten vehicles (69.0%) of the total fleet (98,656 vehicles) had an unladen weight of between 2 to 5 tonnes.  However, these vehicles were responsible for 3.7% of the total weight of goods transported and 2.7% of total activity in terms of tonne-km. Vehicles with an unladen weight of greater than 10 tonnes accounted for one-fifth (20.1%) of the vehicle fleet but were responsible for 88.4% of total activity in terms of tonne-km. These vehicles carried 122.9 million tonnes of goods, representing 86.7% of the total tonnes carried, and they made over half (54.3%) of all laden journeys. See tables D and 3.

Table D: Road freight activity by unladen weight of vehicle, 2016
Unladen weight (tonnes)Tonne-kmTonnes carriedNo. of vehiclesLaden journeys
2 - 53092.75,2103.768,10769.03,63330.0
>5 - 7.52562.23,5012.55,0875.27125.9
>7.5 - 107816.810,0987.15,6295.71,1769.7
>10 - 12.52,91325.240,29628.47,9458.12,38419.7
Over 12.57,30563.282,56458.311,88712.04,18634.6

Age of fleet

Vehicles manufactured in the four years to 2016 (2013-2016) accounted for a quarter of the goods vehicle fleet (24.0%) in 2016. These vehicles carried a quarter (24.5%) of all goods and accounted for 35.1% of overall road freight activity (tonne-km). See tables E, 10 and 11.

Table E: Road freight activity by age of vehicle, 2016
Year of manufactureTonne-kmTonnes carriedVehicle kilometresNo. of vehicles
2006 or before3,11426.955,12638.944128.339,49040.0

Length of haul

In 2016, the bulk of road freight activity as measured by tonne-km (84.9%) was carried out over distances greater than 50 kilometres. A total of 64.8 million tonnes of goods (45.7%) was transported over these longer distances, covering 879 million vehicle kilometres. For distances of 50 km and less, the total amount of goods carried was greater (76.9 million tonnes) but they represented just 15.1% of the overall activity, as measured by tonne-km. See tables F and 5.

Table F: Road freight activity by length of haul, 2016
Length of haulTonne-kmTonnes carriedVehicle kilometres
Up to 10 km1141.016,11411.454434.9
11 - 25 km5364.630,58321.6452.9
26 - 50 km1,0979.530,21021.3905.8
51 - 150 km3,43929.739,83028.133721.6
151 - 500 km4,96442.923,22816.444428.5
Over 500 km1,41412.21,7051.2986.3

Commodity transported

Of the total weight of goods carried, the commodity group quarry products, metal ores and peat accounted for the largest share (24.7% or 35.0 million tonnes) in 2016. This was followed by foodstuffs at 16.9% (23.9 million tonnes). However, the contribution of quarry products, metal ores and peat to overall road freight activity, in terms of tonne-km, was less than 10%, reflecting heavier loads carried over shorter distances. By contrast, foodstuffs accounted for a quarter of total tonne-km. See tables G, 8 and 9.

Table G: Road freight activity by commodity group carried, 2016
CommodityTonne-kmTonnes carriedVehicle kilometres
Products of agriculture, forestry and fishing1,20514,12079
Coal and natural gas789025
Quarry products, metal ores and peat1,13034,96857
Textiles and leather10878314
Wood, pulp and paper6595,78158
Coke and refined petroleum products1,04313,09856
Chemicals and plastics5254,61048
Other non-metallic mineral products85419,14265
Metal products (except machinery and equipment)2492,06124
Machinery and equipment2172,20435
Furniture and other manufactured goods2011,39743
Secondary raw materials and waste3594,99233
Other goods2,02113,690772

Main type of work carried out

Goods vehicles involved in the delivery of goods to road works or building sites carried 45.5 million tonnes of goods in 2016, representing almost one third of all goods carried. This was followed by those involved in delivery of materials and fuels to factories (17.8 million) and delivery of goods to retail outlets (16.0 million).  See figure 2 and table 6.

Type of workTonnes carried (million)
Import/export work11.263
Carriage of livestock1.302
Carriage of other farm produce from farms6.648
Carriage of fertilisers, feeding stuffs, etc. to farms6.415
Delivery of goods to road works or building sites 45.52
Delivery of goods to retail outlets16.048
Delivery of goods to wholesalers11.897
Delivery of materials and fuels to factories17.844
Delivery of goods to households4.015
Other work20.717

In terms of overall road freight activity in 2016 vehicles involved in import/export work (2.4 billion tonne-km) were the largest contributors, representing 20.6% of total tonne-km. This was followed by those involved in delivery of goods to retail outlets (15.5%). See figure 3 and table 6.

Type of work% tonne-km
Import/export work20.6
Carriage of livestock1.1
Carriage of other farm produce from farms3.3
Carriage of fertilisers, feeding stuffs, etc. to farms3.9
Delivery of goods to road works or building sites 12.7
Delivery of goods to retail outlets15.5
Delivery of goods to wholesalers12.0
Delivery of materials and fuels to factories13.7
Delivery of goods to households2.2
Other work14.9

National and international road freight activity

The vast majority of the 141.7 million tonnes of goods transported by Irish goods vehicles in 2016 was carried out within the Republic of Ireland. National transport accounted for 94.4% (133.8 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 79.7% of activity carried out within the national territory. See tables H, 2, 7 & 8.

Table H: National and international road freight activity in 2016
Type of transportTonne-kmTonnes carried

Dublin was the region of origin for 27.6% of all goods carried within the national territory followed by the South-West, Mid-East and Mid-West. See tables I and 14.

 Table I: Domestic transport activity1 classified by region of origin, 2016
RegionTonne-kmTonnes carried
1Domestic transport activity excludes Northern Ireland and Other countries in Table 14

In 2016, 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, 5.6 million tonnes of goods were transported, with a total of 2.1 million tonnes received and 3.5 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, 2016
CountryTonnage received Tonnage dispatched Total tonnage
thousand% thousand% thousand%
United Kingdom2,07188.8 3,50890.8 5,57990.0
(of which Northern Ireland)1,56267.0 2,96376.7 4,52573.0
France572.4 1213.1 1782.9
Netherlands773.3 731.9 1502.4
Germany532.3 451.2 981.6
Belgium251.1 310.8 560.9
Italy170.7 320.8 490.8
Spain180.8 180.5 360.6
Other Countries120.5 371.0 490.8
Total2,331100.0 3,865100.0 6,196100.0

Comparison with 2015 Results

The weight of goods carried by road on Irish registered vehicles increased by a fifth (20.0%) to 141.7 million tonnes between 2015 and 2016. The weight of goods carried by vehicles owned by transport companies increased by 29.9% to 87.0 million tonnes, while the share of goods transported by vehicles owned by transport companies increased from 56.7% in 2015 to 61.4% in 2016. Overall road freight activity, as measured by tonne-km, rose by 17.5% to 11.6 billion. The largest increase in the weight of goods (39.8%) occurred for vehicles involved in the delivery of goods to road works or building sites, while the largest decrease occurred for vehicles involved in the carriage of livestock where the weight of goods carried fell by 5.3% in 2016. See table K.    

Table K: Road freight activity, a comparison between 2015 and 2016
CategoryTonne-km  Tonnes carried
20152016Change 20152016Change
 millionmillion% thousandthousand%
Total9,84411,56417.5 118,059141,66920.0
Business of owner       
Transport 6,8638,41422.6 66,97486,97029.9
Other2,9813,1505.7 51,08554,7007.1
Main use of vehicle       
Hire or reward7,5108,88318.3 75,74092,61522.3
Own account2,3342,68114.9 42,31949,05415.9
National 7,7079,21619.6 111,191133,79620.3
International2,1372,3489.9 6,8677,87314.6
Main type of work        
Import/export work2,3352,3781.8 11,86011,263-5.0
Carriage of livestock1161225.2 1,3751,302-5.3
Carriage of other farm produce from farms392387-1.3 5,7536,64815.6
Carriage of fertilisers, feeding stuffs, etc. to farms40445011.4 6,1266,4154.7
Delivery of goods to road works or building sites9651,47452.7 32,55645,52039.8
Delivery of goods to retail outlets1,4331,79625.3 13,80816,04816.2
Delivery of goods to wholesalers1,1541,39120.5 10,02911,89718.6
Delivery of materials and fuels to factories1,1291,58840.7 13,12917,84435.9
Delivery of goods to households19925327.1 3,5364,01513.5
Other work1,7161,7240.5 19,88820,7174.2

Detailed Tables

Table 1 Transport activity classified by business of owner and main use of vehicle, 2016
Business of owner of vehicleTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
Transport08,4148,414 086,97086,970
Manufacturing industry8910891 23,093023,093
 Mining & quarrying (incl. sand & gravel merchants)2970297 10,545010,545
 Creameries & agricultural cooperative societies12012 1840184
 Manufacture of food & feeding stuffs1860186 2,66702,667
 Manufacture of drink & tobacco000 11011
 Manufacture of glass, cement & clay products2210221 7,62107,621
 Other manufacturing1750175 2,06502,065
Building & construction1130113 2,71702,717
Distribution1,2162721,488 15,0123,42818,440
Agriculture & livestock dealing12447171 2,0253582,383
Local authorities54054 1,75101,751
Other282150433 4,4571,8596,316
Total2,6818,88311,564 49,05492,615141,669
Table 2 Transport activity classified by vehicle capacity, national/international journeys and main use of vehicle, 2016
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 5,00079651441,5406932,234
5,001 - 10,00011690206 2,5441,1173,661
10,001 - 15,000134135268 2,3851,7104,095
15,001 - 20,000313398711 7,2027,61614,818
20,001 - 25,00072331403 1,1673,3254,492
25,001 - 35,0001,0233,2204,243 22,94344,62167,564
Over 35,0008102,4323,241 10,27926,65336,932
International journeys       
vehicle capacity (kg)       
Up to 5,000415 17724
5,001 - 10,00014619 1424146
10,001 - 15,00032023 2388111
15,001 - 20,000104656 53169223
20,001 - 25,0004136140 12330341
25,001 - 35,000429581,000 3443,6944,037
Over 35,000591,0461,105 4042,5872,991
All journeys       
Vehicle capacity (kg)       
Up to 5,0008366149 1,5577002,257
5,001 - 10,00013096225 2,6861,1213,807
10,001 - 15,000137154291 2,4081,7984,206
15,001 - 20,000323444767 7,2567,78515,041
20,001 - 25,00076467543 1,1793,6544,833
25,001 - 35,0001,0654,1785,243 23,28748,31571,602
Over 35,0008683,4774,346 10,68229,24139,923
Total2,6818,88311,564 49,05492,615141,669
Table 3 Transport activity classified by business of owner, unladen weight and main use of vehicle, 2016
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 - 5,00007070 0730730
5,001 - 7,5000125125 01,3541,354
7,501 - 10,0000503503 05,4385,438
10,001 - 12,50002,1522,152 024,88124,881
Over 12,50005,5645,564 054,56754,567
Total08,4148,414 086,97086,970
Other businesses       
Unladen weight (kg)       
2,000 - 5,00019841239 4,0074744,480
5,001 - 7,50011318131 1,9072392,147
7,501 - 10,00024038278 4,3882724,660
10,001 - 12,500652108760 14,1231,29215,415
Over 12,5001,4782631,742 24,6303,36727,997
Total2,6814693,150 49,0545,64554,700
All businesses       
Unladen weight (kg)       
2,000 - 5,0001981113094,0071,2045,210
5,001 - 7,5001131432561,9071,5943,501
7,501 - 10,0002405417814,3885,71010,098
10,001 - 12,5006522,2612,91314,12326,17340,296
Over 12,5001,4785,8277,30524,63057,93482,564
Total2,6818,88311,564 49,05492,615141,669
Table 4 Transport activity classified by region of origin1 and main use of vehicle, 2016
Region of originTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
Total2,6818,88311,564 49,05492,615141,669
1 See Appendix A in Background Notes section
Table 5 Transport activity classified by business of owner, length of haul and main use of vehicle, 2016
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 100575707,6627,662
Over 50001,3241,32401,5791,579
Total08,4148,414 086,97086,970
Other businesses       
Length of haul (km)       
Up to 1052557 7,7616918,452
11-2521716233 12,58587413,458
26-5037047417 10,3421,23511,577
51-1509791561,135 12,8411,82314,664
151-5001,0122051,217 5,4419826,423
Over 500514090 8540126
Total2,6814693,150 49,0545,64554,700
All businesses       
Length of haul (km)       
Up to 105262114 7,7618,35316,114
11-25217319536 12,58517,99830,583
26-503707271,097 10,34219,86830,210
51-1509792,4603,439 12,84126,98939,830
151-5001,0123,9514,964 5,44117,78723,228
Over 500511,3641,414 851,6201,705
Total2,6818,88311,564 49,05492,615141,669
Table 6 Transport activity classified by main type of work and main use of vehicle, 2016
Main type of work done by vehicle Tonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
Import/export work1342,3442,37825611,00711,263
Carriage of livestock35861224818221,302
Carriage of other farm produce from farms753123871,4235,2256,648
Carriage of fertilisers, feeding stuffs etc. to farms1193314502,1824,2336,415
Delivery of goods to road works or building sites6348401,47421,51424,00645,520
Delivery of goods to retail outlets6021,1941,7966,3399,71016,048
Delivery of goods to wholesalers2311,1601,3912,6179,27911,897
Delivery of materials and fuels to factories2111,3771,5882,73915,10517,844
Delivery of goods to households205482533,5624544,015
Other work5351,1891,7247,94212,77420,717
Total2,6818,88311,564 49,05492,615141,669
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, 2016
Type of journeyTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
National journeys2,5456,6719,21648,06185,736133,796
International journeys1362,2122,348 9946,8797,873
 Goods loaded in Ireland1009771,0777293,1363,865
 Goods unloaded in Ireland186626801902,1422,331
 Cross trade17541558581,0681,126
Total journeys2,6818,88311,564 49,05492,615141,669
Table 8 Transport activity classified by group of goods and national/international journeys, 2016
Group of goods (NST 2007)Tonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
National journeysInternational journeysTotal National journeysInternational journeysTotal
Products of agriculture, forestry & fishing9882171,205 13,22889314,120
Coal & natural gas582078 742160902
Quarry products, metal ores & peat1,064661,130 34,44152634,968
Foodstuffs2,0718442915 21,5892,33323,922
Textiles & leather9513108 72558783
Wood, pulp & paper547113659 5,2055755,781
Coke & refined petroleum products982601,043 12,69840013,098
Chemicals & plastics42699525 4,3412694,610
Other non-metallic mineral products746108854 18,62751519,142
Metal products (exc. machinery & equipment)18960249 1,7862752,061
Machinery & equipment15661217 2,0581452,204
Furniture & other manufactured goods12773201 1,1952021,397
Secondary raw materials & waste34811359 4,941504,992
Other goods1,4186032,021 12,2191,47013,690
Total9,2162,34811,564 133,7967,873141,669
Table 9 Transport activity classified by group of goods and main use of vehicle, 2016
Group of goods (NST 2007)Tonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
Products of agriculture, forestry & fishing2509541,2053,30510,81614,120
Coal & natural gas294978465437902
Quarry products, metal ores & peat4267041,13015,13919,82934,968
Textiles & leather1296108128654783
Wood, pulp & paper995606591,1694,6125,781
Coke & refined petroleum products3776661,0435,0828,01713,098
Chemicals & plastics544715255634,0474,610
Other non-metallic mineral products3275278549,6159,52719,142
Metal products (exc. machinery & equipment)482012495981,4632,061
Machinery & equipment57160217 8721,3322,204
Furniture & other manufactured goods411602014988991,397
Secondary raw materials & waste181178359 2,7122,2804,992
Other goods2181,8032,021 2,52711,16213,690
Total2,6818,88311,564 49,05492,615141,669
Table 10 Average number of vehicles classified by unladen weight and year of manufacture of vehicle, 2016
Year of manufacture of vehicleUnladen weight (kg)Total
2,000 - 5,0005,001 - 7,5007,501 - 10,00010,001 - 12,500Over 12,500
2006 or before24,4973,2923,1854,3834,13339,490
Table 11 Transport activity classified by year of manufacture and main use of vehicle, 2016
Year of manufacture of vehicleTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
2006 or before8432,2713,11420,26434,86255,126
2015164647811 2,4254,9367,361
20162259721,196 3,3737,12910,502
Total2,6818,88311,564 49,05492,615141,669
Table 12 Transport activity classified by body type and main use of vehicle, 2016
Type of vehicle and body type Tonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
Platform or sided1491,2761,4261,3839,25310,636
Tanker or other bulk carrier3071,3621,6694,31216,94221,254
Insulated or refrigerated box2481,6561,9051,7947,9479,741
Box or van body1826568381,4053,7845,188
Livestock carrier147892186513699
Rigid/Rigid with trailer      
Platform or sided1381112503,0751,8934,968
Tanker or other bulk carrier277653435,4231,6297,052
Insulated or refrigerated box88541421,3566191,975
Box or van body1522243762,2602,4244,685
Livestock carrier223759317424741
All vehicles      
Platform or sided2881,3881,6764,45911,14615,604
Tanker or other bulk carrier5851,4272,0129,73518,57128,306
Insulated or refrigerated box3371,7102,0473,1508,56611,716
Box or van body3348801,2143,6656,2089,873
Livestock carrier361151515049361,440
Total2,6818,88311,564 49,05492,615141,669
Table 13 Transport activity classified by national/international journeys, axle configuration and main use of vehicle, 2016
Type of journey and axle configurationTonne-km (million) Tonnes carried (thousand)
Own accountHire or rewardTotal Own accountHire or rewardTotal
National journeys       
2 axle3403546946,7544,19110,946
3 axle3551565116,0593,1569,216
Other rigid5164861,00218,08517,90735,992
Rigid + trailer371271635971,5412,138
3 axle84250109302411
4 axle1012643651,3903,2674,657
5 axle5281,7492,2775,28616,43021,716
Other articulated6603,4934,1539,78038,94048,720
International journeys       
2 axle21153617562237
3 axle88168328111
Other rigid6152283208291
Rigid + trailer420249143152
3 axle21619106071
4 axle5848921242262
5 axle179799961592,2132,372
Other articulated731,0741,1474533,9244,377
All journeys       
2 axle3613697306,9294,25311,182
3 axle3631645276,1433,1849,327
Other rigid5225011,02318,16818,11536,283
Rigid + trailer401471886061,6842,291
3 axle115969119363482
4 axle1053484531,4113,5084,919
5 axle5452,7283,2735,44518,64424,088
Other articulated7334,5675,30010,23342,86453,097
Total2,6818,88311,564 49,05492,615141,669
Table 14 Transport activity classified by region of origin and region of destination, 2016
Region of origin1Region of destination1Total
BorderMidlandWestDublinMid-EastMid-WestSouth-EastSouth-WestNorthern IrelandOther countries
Tonne-km (million)
Northern Ireland499117014104112189243
Other countries6692423245234620295351,028
 Tonnes Carried (thousand)
Northern Ireland7035851434983714833414332,010
Other countries108192044279255026441,1851,998
1See Appendix A
Table 15 Transport activity classified by country of origin and country of destination, 2016
Country of originCountry of destinationTotal
BelgiumFranceGermanyIrelandItalyNetherlandsSpainUnited KingdomOther EUOther countries1
 Tonne-km (million)
United Kingdom113919398018021739712
Other EU00213120163139
Other countries1000800061015
 Tonnes carried (thousand)
United Kingdom2151222,07102401,172163,369
Other EU003632073225
Other countries1000600052012
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, 2016 (SI No 146 of 2016) 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 2016 and ending the last week of December 2016. 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 23,506 vehicles surveyed, a satisfactory return was received in respect of 11,877 vehicles, representing an overall response rate of 51%.  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 2016 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.

Rounding: Due to the fact that individual figures have been rounded independently there may be slight discrepancies between the sum of the constituent items and the totals shown.

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, 2016
Year of manufactureUnladen weightTotal
2 - 5 tonnes5 - 10 tonnes10 tonnes & over
Sampling proportion %
Before 20085347824
2008 - 20115428525
After 20117458022
Table M: Response rates by age and unladen weight of vehicle, 2016
Year of manufactureUnladen weight Total
2 - 5 tonnes 5 - 10 tonnes 10 tonnes and over 
Forms issued% response Forms issued% response Forms issued% response Forms issued% response
Before 20081,48167 2,52356 8,21946 12,22350
2008 - 201175365 75053 3,58547 5,08850
After 20111,44964 69351 4,05347 6,19551
Total3,68365 3,96654 15,85746 23,50651
Table N: Accuracy indicators for road freight activity, 2016
Unladen weight (tonnes)Tonne-km Tonnes carried Vehicle kilometres
Survey estimateCoefficient of variation Survey estimateCoefficient of variation Survey estimateCoefficient of variation
million% thousand% million%
2 - 53099.6 5,2109.1 4033.7
>5 - 7.52567.0 3,5015.6 803.0
>7.5 - 107815.9 10,0986.0 1422.5
>10 - 12.52,9132.0 40,2962.4 3031.2
Over 12.57,3051.7 82,5641.6 6310.9
Total11,5641.3 141,6691.3 1,5581.1
Appendix B: Goods vehicle category types, 2016
CodeBody typeGoods vehicle population1 2016
AllSurvey scope
2Station wagon/jeep1,1190
7Open lorry & container130130
8Open lorry only1,2331,233
13Travelling machine/workshop310
14Mobile shop870
22Low loader3333
24Concrete mixer/concrete pump282282
25Horse box/animal transporter1,2321,232
30Refuse collector674674
31Gritter/chip spreader00
48Pick up792792
50Van with side windows6161
51Other light goods6161
52Box van2,9242,924
53Luton van476476
54Insulated/refrigerated van1,1781,178
55Glass carrier1212
56Other van1717
58Drop-side lorry921921
59Hopper truck11
60Recovery vehicle1640
61Solid bulk carrier1818
63Car transporter8282
64Other goods heavy3,2413,241
69Road maintenance vehicle90
70Road tar sprayer10
71Road marking machine10
75Articulated tractor unit13,71013,710
82Crew cab14,13814,138
83Rescue vehicle10
85Well driller/drilling machine10
86Curtain sider1,4581,458
88Skip loader302302
89Telescopic handler20
90Drain cleaner60
91Security van/truck8888
95Chassis cab6,0836,083
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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