National Traffic System

The National Traffic System (NTS) is a network of amateur radio operators who move information during disasters and other emergencies. General messages offering well wishes also move through the NTS to help test the system and to help amateur radio operators build traffic handling skills. While the NTS is primarily set up to serve the United States and Canada, it is possible to move traffic internationally through the NTS.

National Traffic System logo

When all else fails, there’s amateur radio.

The relay in American Radio Relay League

When areas are hit by large-scale events, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, or technology failures that impact electricity or communications, amateur radio operators can set up equipment in the affected area to restore communications. Whether that’s by throwing antenna wire into trees, setting up generators, or bringing in a portable repeater, amateur radio allows for communicating across town, across the country, and around the world.

The National Traffic System is an ARRL-sponsored program which provides an organized method for moving messages related to the event. Called traffic, these messages can provide information critical for saving lives or property, as well as inquiring about the health or welfare of those affected. Messages are composed using the radiogram format, and these radiograms are moved, or relayed, into and out of the affected area. This is the Relay in American Radio Relay League: traffic is relayed from one location to another.

Learn about traffic handling!

Interested in learning about radiograms, how to move traffic on traffic nets, and keep traffic logs?

Recent calls to service

Here are some recent incidents where amateur radio operators played a vital role in communications. You can learn the skills needed for effective, clear communications during disasters and other emergencies by participating in traffic nets.

California Fires Spark Amateur Radio Emergency Service Activations

“ARES communication at the shelters has been carried out using voice, Winlink, and email to pass shelter counts, and tactical messages between the shelter and the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center and Cal Office of Emergency Services.”

South Carolina Amateur Radio Volunteers Assist with Emergency Communication

“… operators at the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) have been keeping in contact with field volunteers in Marion and Dillon counties, after conventional telecommunications failed there.”

Dominica Post-Disaster Needs Assessment Cites Amateur Radio’s Role after Maria

“… all telecommunication services on Dominica except for Amateur Radio were disabled from September 19 to 21.”