Traffic Handling

What is traffic handling?

Traffic handling is the collection/creation, relay and delivery of messages via the National Traffic System or NTS.  The NTS is a system of nets that allows the fast movement of messages or traffic.  Amateur “ham” radio is what you decide to make of it.  You may or may not have any interest in traffic handling.  However, because traffic handling is part of emergencies, those who expect to be able to help during an emergency, should learn how to properly handle traffic.  Proper traffic handling is an integral part of the ARES and RACES activities during emergencies.

Traffic Handling Training & Resources

Some of the best learning experiences come from listening to active traffic handling and then trying it out for yourself. Asking for help on your local traffic net will surely get you in touch with someone who is ready, willing and able to help you on your journey to traffic handling. However, we recommend getting some basic knowledge under your belt to help you understand some of what you are hearing when listening to a traffic net. Here at, we are not going to re-create the wheel. There are fantastic traffic handler trainings and resources that already exist. Here’s some of our favorites…

ARRL NTS & Radiogram Training – Youtube Video – by K8AMH. This training, while specific to the operations in the NTX (Northern Texas) section, is very comprehensive and offers both an overview and detail-specific examples. This video is highly recommended, but please note that the full video is just shy of two hours, so please plan accordingly.

NTS MPG (Methods & Practices Guide) – PDF – by W3YVQ (via ARRL). This written guide outlines specific methods and practices for the NTS or National Traffic System. The guide broken down by chapter can be found here.

NTS Manual (2015 revision) – PDF – by W3YVQ (via ARRL). This is a full manual for the National Traffic System, which covers everything from the basic composition of NTS nets to traffic routing.

NTS Presentation – PowerPoint – by N2GS & WB2FTX. This presentation is a little tough to view online and we recommend downloading it before viewing it.

ARRL Radiogram / Fillable Form – PDF – by ARRL.