All Projects

What does a typical travel day look like in the U.S.?

Understanding national travel behaviors

Understanding how, when, and why residents of the U.S. move from place to place throughout a typical day is key for the FHWA, state departments of transportation, regional metropolitan planning organizations (MPO), and other policymakers in fields like safety and the environment.

Maintaining national transportation data trends in travel behavior across time is a long-standing goal of the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), which has been conducted every 5 to 8 years since 1969, and was conducted most recently in 2016 and 2017.

Helping to identify transportation system needs and plan for improvements are other functions of the NHTS.

  • For the first time in the history of the NHTS, the 2017 survey was based on an address-based sample of respondents rather than the traditional random digit dialing approach.
  • The foundation of the 2017 NHTS’s success was the creation of a sampling design that  addressed the needs of the FHWA and the 13 add-on state and regional programs that participated in the NHTS.
  • The next component included designing a questionnaire that collected key household demographic and vehicle information, trip destinations and durations, distance traveled, and purpose of trips during an assigned 24-hour period of time.
  • The 2017 NHTS featured a multimode methodology designed to elicit higher response rates than typical regional household travel surveys. Westat recruited respondents through a mail-back paper questionnaire designed to increase survey participation. Westat mailed travel logs to all recruited households with instructions on how to record their travel. Respondents were encouraged to use a personal identifying number to report their trip information on the survey’s website after their assigned travel date was completed. Geocoded address information was collected for all trip destinations.
  • Westat conducted the survey over 13 months to allow for annual estimates of travel behavior, including seasonal differences not traditionally captured in state and regional household travel surveys.
  • This was the third time that Westat conducted the NHTS. Westat successfully collected data from more than 129,000 households across the country. This included more than 26,000 households for the national sample and nearly 103,600 for the 13 states and regional planning organizations that chose to integrate their data collection needs with the NHTS.
  • Westat prepared the survey data for analyses. The FHWA made the data set available to participating states and regions and to the public.
  • Westat also prepared and delivered specific trip detail files for each of the 13 add-on programs; these data sets provide confidential information that is not made available to the FHWA or the general public.

Want to work with us?
You’ll be in great company.

About Us Careers

Westat Employees.
Westat Employee.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The National Institutes of Health
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
The Johns Hopkins University
University of Maryland Baltimore Campus
University of Denver
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Department of Transportation
U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Education
U.S. Department of Agriculture
The Verizon Foundation
Texas Education Agency
Baltimore Metropolitan Council
Teach for America
Social Security Administration
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity
National Science Foundation
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Maryland Cancer Registry
Internal Revenue Service
Georgia Department of Transportation
DC Public Schools
ClearWay Minnesota
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
University of Michigan
Explore Our Clients

Please wait...

Forbes 2020 The Best Employers for Diversity Powered by Statista Copyright 2019 Forbes Media LLC. Used with permissionForbes 2019: The Best Employers for Women Powered by Statista Copyright 2019 Forbes Media LLC. Used with permission

Westat is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, veteran status, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship status, genetic information, gender identity, or any other protected status under applicable law. Notices to Employees & Applicants.