National Household Travel Survey (2009)

The 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) provides information to assist transportation planners and policy makers who need comprehensive data on travel and transportation patterns in the United States. The 2009 NHTS updates information gathered in the 2001 NHTS and in prior Nationwide Personal Transportation Surveys (NPTS) conducted in 1969, 1977, 1983, 1990, and 1995.

Data Collected

The NHTS/NPTS serves as the nation’s inventory of daily travel. Data is collected on daily trips taken in a 24-hour period, and includes:

  • purpose of the trip (work, shopping, etc.);
  • means of transportation used (car, bus, subway, walk, etc.);
  • how long the trip took, i.e., travel time;
  • time of day when the trip took place;
  • day of week when the trip took place; and
  • if a private vehicle trip:
  • number of people in the vehicle , i.e., vehicle occupancy;
  • driver characteristics (age, sex, worker status, education level, etc.); and
  • vehicle attributes (make, model, model year, amount of miles driven in a year).

These data are collected for:

  • all trips,
  • all modes,
  • all purposes,
  • all trip lengths, and
  • all areas of the country, urban and rural.

Uses of NHTS

NHTS data are used to:

  • quantify travel behavior,
  • analyze changes in travel characteristics over time,
  • relate travel behavior to the demographics of the traveler, and
  • study the relationship of demographics and travel over time.

The NHTS data are used primarily for gaining a better understanding of travel behavior. The data enable DOT officials to assess program initiatives, review programs and policies, study current mobility issues, and plan for the future.

The NHTS is a tool in the urban transportation planning process; it provides data on personal travel behavior, trends in travel over time, trip generation rates, national data to use as a benchmark in reviewing local data, and data for various other planning and modeling applications.

The transportation research community, including academics, consultants and government, use the NHTS extensively to examine:

  • travel behavior at the individual and household level;
  • the characteristics of travel, such as trip chaining, use of the various modes, amount and purpose of travel by time of day and day of week, vehicle occupancy, and a host of other attributes;
  • the relationship between demographics and travel; and
  • the public’s perceptions of the transportation system.

People in various fields outside of transportation use the NHTS data to connect the role of transportation with other aspects of our lives. Medical researchers use the data to determine crash exposure rates of drivers and passengers, including the elderly, who have heightened morbidity and mortality rates. Safety specialists study the accident risk of school-age children, particularly when they are traveling on their own by walking or biking. Social service agencies need to know more about how low-income households currently meet their travel needs.

Data and Resources

Additional Info

Field Value
Author U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
Maintainer Emily Newes
Catalog OpenEI
Origination Date 2011-02-28T00:00:00
Required Software

Package Relationships

Relationship Dataset