Survey Participant Information - Survey of Motor Vehicle Use

Welcome to online help for the Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU) 2019-20. This page contains information designed to assist businesses and individuals understand and complete the questions on the SMVU during 2019-20.

For common questions about participation in ABS surveys, please see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). For help using the online survey tool. please see eSurvey Help.

If your question about the Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU) 2019-20 is not answered on this page or in the information provided on your form, please call 1800 735 060 free call (excluding mobile phones).


Survey of Motor Vehicle Use

The SMVU is collected in two stages. In the first stage, information is collected about the vehicle selected for the survey. In the second stage, information is gathered about the use of the vehicle over a four month survey period.

A Vehicle Log Record is provided to help you keep track of the vehicle's use over the four month period. It is recommended that you keep this log in the vehicle and complete it when you refuel.

Different form types are used for different types of vehicles, these being: Passenger Vehicles, Freight Vehicles and Buses.

Vehicles will only be selected in one of three collection periods during the collection cycle 1 July 2019 - 30 June 2020.

Collection Period 1 = 1 July 2019 to 31 October 2019
Collection Period 2 = 1 November 2019 to 29 February 2020
Collection Period 3 = 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020

The collection period you have been selected for is specified at the top of each page in the online form and on the front page of the paper form.

The table below shows the Survey Guide and the Vehicle Log Record provided to assist you in completing the survey forms.

Vehicle Log Record



What is the purpose of the survey and who uses the data?

The SMVU is the only source of national data on motor vehicle use and the information is used in a wide range of government and industry decision-making that affects all aspects of road transport and travel.

It is run to provide data for private research bodies/organisations but particularly for Commonwealth and State/Territory government agencies responsible for transport infrastructure. The data assists in decision-making on:

    • the allocation of funds for the design, construction and maintenance of road infrastructure
    • the regulation of road transport operators
    • broad measure of growth rates in road use, mobility and traffic congestion
    • accident exposure
    • energy use analysis.

How did our vehicle get chosen for the survey?

All vehicles that were registered with a motor vehicle authority for road use at some stage during the 12 months ending 30 June 2020 are in scope to be selected for the SMVU, with some exceptions. The population is identified using information obtained from the State and Territory motor vehicle registration authorities, as part of the annual ABS Motor Vehicle Census (MVC). The population of vehicles is stratified or grouped based on certain vehicle characteristics, and vehicles are selected for participation in the survey at random from within these groups. This means that all registered owners of vehicles within scope will have a chance to be selected to participate in the survey.

What are Key Data Items SMVU produces estimates for?

The SMVU produces estimates for:
    • Total distance travelled
    • Tonne-kilometres
    • Total fuel consumption

Tonne-kilometres is the industry measure for the freight task. SMVU calculates this data using laden distance travelled for work purposes and average load weights as reported by respondents.


Is the survey compulsory?

The ABS relies on the cooperation of motor vehicle users in Australia to provide accurate information as requested. However, the Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the Australian Statistician with the power, if necessary, to direct you in writing to answer the questions.

Why don’t you pay people to fill in the survey?

The ABS appreciates that considerable time and effort is required on the part of respondents to complete the form. As there is no provision under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to pay respondents for their time, we rely on their cooperation.

Is confidentiality of my data guaranteed?

The ABS has a legislative responsibility to ensure that it provides a quality statistical service whilst also protecting the privacy rights of those individuals or businesses who provide information. Your completed form remains confidential to the ABS and statistics will only be published in the form of aggregated data. The Australian Statistician and his staff are bound by the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to observe the strictest confidence in regard to the information supplied by respondents.

How accurate do my figures need to be?

The ABS requires information that is as accurate as possible. The more accurate the figures you supply, the more accurate the total estimate will be. However, if exact data is not readily available careful estimates will be accepted.


Were you the registered owner of this vehicle at the start of this survey period as defined on the form?

If you do not own the vehicle at the start of the survey period, you are required to provide the exact date when you ceased to be the registered owner. The new owner's name and contact details also need to be supplied.

Please record the vehicle's exact odometer reading.

It is very important to get an exact odometer reading as close as possible to the start of the survey period. The odometer reading must be to the nearest whole kilometre or mile e.g. report as 239033 and not 239000. The reading should not be rounded or estimated. Please make sure you keep a record of this reading for the use in completing the second form.


There have been significant changes and unusual movements since completing the last survey, how do I inform the ABS of these changes?

Please update the relevant fields on your form if there have been any significant change/s to the following details:
    • physical or postal address
    • ownership or operations
    • Australian Business Number (ABN)
    • contact details of the person best qualified to provide the data and respond to ABS queries.

Any additional information can be added in the comments section at the end of the form. If you have any problems or difficulties providing the requested information please call 1800 735 060.

I have already sent you the information requested.

If you believe you have already given the information requested by the ABS through a survey or other means, please call our staff on 1800 735 060 and let us know. If you sent in a completed survey form by mail, you will need to provide your contact details and the date the form was sent. If you received a reminder notice about your form, you may have sent it in at the same time as your reminder notice was sent out.

How can I get access to the results of ABS surveys?

As a participant in a survey, you can ask to receive an electronic copy of the main publication into which your data has contributed. You can also access the results of the Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU) and other ABS surveys on-line by going to or contacting the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.


The ABS is grateful for your cooperation in returning completed forms promptly to enable early processing and release of results from our surveys. We look forward to your continued support.

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