We at DOT must work harder than ever before to give the American people what they need when it comes to transportation, and the most important thing they are counting on us to deliver is safety.
From day one until today, and on into the future, the pursuit of improved transportation safety has been and will remain the Department of Transportation's top priority.
For example, in the Department's earliest years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) developed an antihijacking screening system and Congress expanded the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) safety oversight authority to include track maintenance and equipment standards. In the decades since then, we have advanced countless measures to increase safety in every mode of transportation. Most recently, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) began vigorous oversight of public transit safety, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has continued its efforts to educate drivers about the dangers of impaired driving, distraction, and heatstroke.
From the Office of the Secretary to our nine Operating Administrations, you can learn more about current safety efforts below.
- The Mayors' Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets encourages city leaders to raise the bar for bicyclist and pedestrian safety by joining a year-long effort in which Mayors and other elected city officials lead a call to action and form local action teams that take on one or more Challenge activities.
- SaferCar.gov is a consumer-oriented website operated by NHTSA and featuring valuable information on vehicle safety ratings, recalls, child safety seats, tire safety, and more.
- Look Before You Book is the consumer-facing home of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's motorcoach safety program where travelers can research bus and driver safety data on passenger carriers before booking motorcoach travel.
- Safe Transportation of Energy Products, or STEP, is the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration program to enhance the safe transport of crude oil by rail through safety alerts, regulations, proper classification of energy products, improvements to rail operations and equipment, minimizing risks, improving tank car survivability, emergency response training and information, and scientific research.
- Railroad Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention is the FRA's program to reduce the number of deaths at America's more than 212,000 highway-rail grade crossings, where a public highway, road, street, or private roadway, including associated sidewalks, and pathways, crosses railroad tracks at the same level as the street.
Through transportation, we can help ensure that the rungs on the ladder of opportunity aren’t so far apart and that the American dream is still within reach for those who are willing to work for it.
Transportation plays a critical role in getting Americans from their communities to economic opportunity and bringing economic opportunity into communities. The choices we make regarding transportation infrastructure at the Federal, State, and local levels can revitalize communities, create pathways to work, and connect hardworking Americans to a better quality of life.
In 1973, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which for the first time allowed states to use highway trust fund dollars to support public transit. That's just one of the ways the Department has helped connect Americans to opportunities that might have otherwise been beyond their reach. DOT continues to help Americans reach opportunity by ensuring that our transportation system provides reliable, safe, and affordable ways for people to reach jobs, education, and other essential services outside their communities. More recently, DOT investments in new and existing transit facilities like the Union Depot in St. Paul, MN, have helped stimulate private investment and created jobs within communities.
From the Secretary of Transportation's personal leadership in this area to our many Operating Administration programs, below are several examples of current DOT initiatives to connect Americans to opportunity.
- The Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program helps decision-makers, transportation officials, and planning staff build skills in planning, consensus building, and understanding policy guidance and regulations so they can better address transportation needs in their communities.
- The TPCB Public Involvement Techniques Guide offers a variety of public involvement techniques available to transportation agencies and assists practitioners in coordinating full public involvement, which in turn helps residents have a greater say in the projects and plans that will affect their communities.
- The Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development program from the Federal Transit Administration offers funding to help train a new generation of skilled workers and support long-term careers in the public transportation industry.
- DOT's Local Hiring initiative seeks to enhance opportunities for local workers to obtain jobs on infrastructure projects by ending 40 years of federal policies preventing grant recipients from implementing hiring programs that give preference to the very people who live in the communities where they’re building projects.
- The TOD Technical Assistance Initiative provides technical assistance and support for transit oriented development (TOD) activities focused on supporting economically distressed communities across the country with assistance that ranges from on-the-ground support to web-based tools.
- Our Ladders of Opportunity Transportation Empowerment Pilot is helping build and restore connections, develop workforce capacity, and catalyze neighborhood revitalization in seven communities by providing technical assistance and by working to attract public and private resources to game-changing transportation projects.
From materials to data to technology to financing, DOT uses every tool at our disposal to make transportation safer, more sustainable, and more efficient.
We're not just talking about filling in potholes; we're talking about a transportation system that is better for the long-term. To make that happen, we have needed every tool in the box. And when the box hasn't had what we needed, we've innovated.
From the introduction of anti-lock braking systems in American automobiles and the National Passenger Railroad Corporation (Amtrak) in the 1970s to the marine highways and hydrogen fuel-cell transit buses put into service over the past decade, DOT has enthusiastically supported deployment of concepts that have made American transportation stronger and will make it stronger in the future.
That support continues today. The programs listed below are just a sampling of this Department's current efforts to drive transportation innovation.
- Beyond Traffic is our draft framework for the future that underscores critical decision points facing the country, by means of data driven analysis, research, expert opinions and public engagement.
- Autonomous and Connected Vehicle technologies promise to wirelessly connect vehicles to each other, to roads, and to personal mobile devices so they can exchange secure information about their position, speed, and more. These technologies will help us move about more safely and help us get where we're going more effectively, whether we're on foot, on bike, or in a vehicle.
- The Smart City Challenge is our way of encouraging cities to show what is possible when they use technology to connect transportation assets into an interactive data-fueled network. The challenge will award up to $40 million in federal funding to one medium-sized city, selected through a nationwide competition.
- The Build America Transportation Investment Center, which we call BATIC, serves as the single point of contact and coordination for states, municipalities and transportation project sponsors looking to use federal expertise, apply for federal credit programs, and explore ways to access private capital in public private partnerships.
- NextGen, the Federal Aviation Administration's next generation approach to managing our National Airspace System, is transforming our radar-based air traffic control system to a more efficient satellite-based system. It is delivering benefits today that increase efficiency and flexibility while reducing aviation's environmental footprint and enhancing safety.
- Every Day Counts (EDC) is the Federal Highway Administration's initiative to speed up delivery of highway projects and address the challenges presented by limited budgets. EDC is a state-based model to identify and rapidly deploy proven but underused innovations to shorten the project delivery process, enhance roadway safety, reduce congestion, and improve environmental sustainability.