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National Household Travel Survey Data User Tools. Adella Santos FHWA-OFFICE OF HIGHWAY POLICY INFORMATION APDU 2008 ANNUAL CONFERENCE SEPTEMBER 25, 2008. Today’s Presentation. Public data: Purpose for Planning and Policy About the NHTS Data Travel Trends Data Content and data sets

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National Household Travel Survey Data User Tools

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National Household Travel SurveyData User Tools

Adella Santos



SEPTEMBER 25, 2008

Today’s Presentation

  • Public data: Purpose for Planning and Policy

  • About the NHTS Data

  • Travel Trends

  • Data Content and data sets

  • Uses and Users

  • Data Products and User data Tools

About the NHTS Data…

  • National Study on travel of the American Public

  • Add-On Program for States and metropolitan areas.

  • 40 Years of Travel Data

    • 1969, 1977, 1983, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2008

  • Link between demographics, travel and vehicles.

  • Widely used inside and outside the transportation research, planning and policy communities.

Planning and Policy: How do we get from here to there?


Use of a travel diary

What do we ask? Core Travel

Data Content

  • Household demographics (composition and income)

  • Person (Age, race, sex, ethnicity, worker & students status, citizenship, education)

  • Geography (urban, rural, suburban, state and national analyses)

  • Vehicles (Make, model, year, mileage alternative fuels)

  • Trips/Commute information (mode, occupancy, time of departure, purpose, work location and occupation, distance trip length)

Travel Data Depends on:

For Each Vehicle:

Make (Hybrid/Alternative fuel)


Age (year)

How long owned*

For Each Household:

Number of people

Number of drivers

Number of workers

Number of vehicles


Race and Ethnicity

For Each Person:



Driver status

Worker Status

Annual Miles

Daily Travel Data:



Start/End time


Vehicle Occupancy

Interstate use

Trends in Travel Content: 2008 New and Improved Data

  • Shopping by Internet and deliveries to the household

  • Frequency of self-employed and work at home instead of traveling to workplace

  • Flexibility of arrival time at work Vehicle Make and model, whether hybrid or alternate fuel used

  • Travel to school detail to support Safe Routes to School program

  • Whether trip included travel on freeway/interstate and whether a toll was paid

Internet shopping and the impact of purchases being delivered

In 2001 we started to see a relationship on internet use and travel…

Source: Contrino and McGuckin paper to be submitted TRB 2008

Other sources show increased household purchases on-line…

Average Number of On-Line Purchases per Month

Source: USPS HDS data

What are the effects on system use?

  • More Truck in Residential areas:

  • Congestion impacts

  • Safety Issues

  • Economic impacts

Trend Issue: Fleet Penetration and use of Hybrid/Alternative fuel Vehicles

  • Since 1969 we have collected fleet characteristics (make/model/age of vehicle)

  • Since 2001, added value of vehicle efficiency (mpg) and gas cost

  • 2008, added Hybrid and alternate fuel use

Fleet Characteristic and fuel cost are changing

The Average Vehicle is 9 Years Old.

Source: NHTS Data Series, 1977 - 2001

NHTS 2001 and 2008 Data Sets

  • 2001 NHTS

  • - Household data set: 69,817 records, 188 variables

  • - Person data set: 160,758 records, 142 variables

  • - Daytrip data set: 642, records, 150 variables

  • - Vehicle data set: 139, 382 records, 92 variables

  • - 3 replicate weight files: each has 398 variables

  • - Contains 239 derived variables.

  • 2008 NHTS

  • - 150,000 Households (25,000 national Sample and 125,000 Add-On sample).

Major Users and Uses



System Use Measures (congestion, Urban/rural)

Travel Characteristics (Trends & Forecasting)

Mode Use for Transit Planning, Bike/Pedestrian,

Safety (Exposure rates)

  • Federal (DOT)

  • Federal (Non DOT)

  • State DOT

  • MPOs

  • Universities

  • Research Entities

Other Measures

  • Provides data for forecasting and air quality analysis.

  • Tracks changes in fleet characteristics and use (e.g. Hybrids vehicles and effects of rising gas prices on travel)

  • Marks the effect of new technology/uses on travel behaviors (e.g. internet shopping and deliveries to homes.)

  • Policy effects in Travel (e.g. work at home workers with flexible arrival time.)

  • Rich in Demographics (e.g. travel demands specific population groups such as immigrants, elderly, school children, low income)

NHTS Products


  • Policy Briefs

  • State Profiles

  • Summary of Travel Trends

  • Our Nation’s Travel: Current Issues

  • Data Trends Data Set: 1990, 1995, 2001

  • Data Tools

  • NHTS Website: (Community of exchange)

  • On Line Analysis Tool

  • Transferability Tool

NHTS Policy Briefs

State Profiles

NHTS Website:

Please visit our website:

Transferability Data Tool

Accessing NHTS Products

  • State Profiles

  • Summary of Travel Trends and Our Nation’s Travel: Current Trends

  • Trends Database: CD

  • Policy Briefs:

  • Transferability


  • On-line Analysis Tool:

    • SAS Data Set:

National Household Travel Survey

Thank You!

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