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There are three main reasons commercial VIO data differs from data from the US government. The first is due to variation when data is reported by states to the US government. States are required to report registrations using form FHWA-561 once per calendar year or fiscal year. Forty six states end their fiscal year on June 30 and four end in March, August or September. This data is due to the FHWA by January 1 of the following year, creating a lag time of about six months and thereby not accounting for half a year of changes. Second, the government's definitions of vehicle classifications change over time. A footnote added to FHWA datafiles states, ". . . Data for 2007-10 were calculated using a new methodology developed by FHWA. Data for these years are based on new categories and are not comparable to previous years". Third, the government can include vehicles not in use, or double-count vehicles that have been transferred across two states. According to the FHWA Office of Highway Policy Information], "Although many States continue to register specific vehicle types on a calendar year basis, all States use some form of the "staggered" system to register motor vehicles. Registration practices for commercial vehicles differ greatly among States. The FHWA data include all vehicles which have been registered at any time throughout the calendar year. Data include vehicles which were retired during the year and vehicles that were registered in more than one State. In some States, it is also possible that contrary to the FHWA reporting instructions, vehicles which have been registered twice in the same State may be reported as two vehicles". (All italics added for emphasis. )

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