Shortly after I was sworn in as Secretary of Transportation, I asked that the official blog name be changed from “FAST Lane” to something else. With the distressing news that traffic injuries and fatalities have increased in recent years, it seemed to me that we should move away from a title associated with speeding. An e-mail went out to all USDOT employees soliciting ideas for a new name and many excellent suggestions were received – so many it was hard to choose just one.
But one did stand out: “Connections.”
“Connections” is an apt choice for USDOT as America’s multi-modal nationwide transportation system hinges on connections -- between flights, trains, buses, to name a few modes of travel. And this blog is all about connecting with people, internally at USDOT and with the public we serve. So I’m delighted with the name change and would like to thank everyone who participated in this group effort!
April is National Safe Digging Month. Careless digging poses a threat to people, pipelines and other underground facilities, so in April, we highlight the importance of safe digging to remind homeowners and contractors about the dangers that reckless digging can cause.
Each year, damage to underground facilities results in incidents that include injuries and fatalities. To help ensure your safety, you are required to call 811—a toll-free, one-call notification center—48 to 72 hours before beginning any excavation or digging projects. By calling 811, you can verify the location of any underground facilities in and around your excavation site, such as hazardous liquid and natural gas pipelines, telecommunications systems, electrical utilities, sewer pipelines and water pipelines.
Fifty years ago, on April 1, 1967, USDOT opened its doors, consolidating under one roof the operations of 31 separate transportation-related entities. This week, we hosted at USDOT an “open house” to commemorate the Department’s 50th anniversary, celebrate USDOT’s achievements, and reaffirm our commitment to addressing the challenges of today and advancing the best possibilities for the future.
Over 500 people gathered together in the atrium, including former Secretaries of Transportation Elizabeth Dole, Mary Peters and Norm Mineta, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee John Thune, Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Bill Shuster, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Michael Sacco, president of the Seafarers International Union of North America/AFL-CIO, other distinguished guests, friends from the Department of Labor and USDOT colleagues.
The occasion was enhanced by the presence of transportation icons (vintage cars, a semi-truck, motorcycle), reminders of our core safety mission (crash test dummies) and examples of cutting-edge transportation technology (including autonomous vehicles and a drone). It was a festive, informative and inspiring event. It was also a formal kickoff to my tenure as the Secretary of Transportation, which could be characterized as a career “full circle,” as my first full-time job in public service was with USDOT.
I’m as excited by the mission and potential of USDOT today as when I first walked in the door at the old Nassif Building headquarters. I am joined in this can-do spirit by my dedicated colleagues at USDOT. With infrastructure improvement at the forefront of this administration, USDOT is well-positioned to help do great things for our country!
Speakers at the USDOT 50th Anniversary Celebration & Welcoming Ceremony: Rep. Bill Shuster - Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Michael Sacco – President of the Seafarers International Union of North America/AFL-CIO, Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, former Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. U.S. Senator John Thune, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, delivered the opening remarks and then had to rush back to the Senate to preside over the confirmation hearing of Jeffrey Rosen, the President’s nominee for Deputy Secretary of Transportation.
In 2015, approximately one person died in a motor vehicle crash every 15 minutes. That terrifying statistic underscores the need for game-changing technology that can help save lives.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that 94 percent of all crashes are tied to a human error, which means these deaths are highly preventable. To help drive this number down, NHTSA has been working tirelessly to promote new vehicle technologies that have the potential to help prevent crashes and save thousands of lives every year. You can purchase these technologies in many new cars today—but only if you know about them.
NHTSA wants you to be fully informed when it comes to new vehicle safety technology, so we’ve teamed up with self-described science and technology champion Adam Savage to test and explain the value of each of these. Now at Tested.com, Savage was part of the original duo that 10 years ago created and fronted Discovery Channel’s MythBusters to educate and entertain millions of viewers around the world.
City planners, elected officials, scholars and residents for the first time ever this month gained access to comprehensive aircraft and road noise inventory data that will help them design infrastructure, create policy and conduct research.
The data are presented on the National Transportation Noise Map, a project from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). Interested groups and individuals can access the map to view both national and county-level data about potential exposure to aviation and Interstate highway noise.
America’s small businesses continue to help the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) address some of the nation’s biggest transportation challenges through the Department’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. On March 20, the US DOT SBIR program announced 15 recommendations for awards for SBIR’s fiscal year (FY) 17.1 solicitation. The awarded small businesses are conducting important research, leading to new technologies in addressing some of US DOT’s most pressing challenges such as broken rail detection, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) detection devices, and information tools for transit users.
Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao has five sisters. Her parents taught all of their daughters to set goals and to proceed step-by-step to advance their situations in life.
“My parents were incredible people who believed that their daughters could do anything they wanted in this wonderful country which offered so much opportunity,” she told hundreds of U.S. Department of Transportation employees listening both remotely and in person today at the 2017 US DOT Women’s History Month celebration.
On Elizabeth Dole’s first day at Harvard Law School in in the early 1960s, a male classmate asked her a question.
“Elizabeth, what are you doing here? What are you doing in this law school?” he said. “Don’t you realize there are men who would give their right arm to be here, men who would use their legal education?”
Dole was one of 24 women in a class of 550.
Each summer, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warn of the dangers of heatstroke when a child is left alone in a hot vehicle. Yet, every year, tragedies strike. Last year, heatstroke killed 39 kids. This year, before spring has even arrived—we’ve already lost two children.
These preventable deaths happen in even the most loving families. It’s not because parents are intentionally leaving children behind. Most often, it happens when parents are in a hurry or caregivers driving the child are not used to the routine and a child is mistakenly left in a vehicle. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a child playing around an unattended car and locking themselves in the car.
I had the distinct honor this week of joining colleagues at the St. Lambert Lock in Montreal to celebrate the beginning of the St. Lawrence Seaway’s 59th navigation season.
Along with Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation President and CEO Terence Bowles and many others, I watched this season’s first ship, CSL St-Laurent, begin its journey into the Seaway System to pick up a load of grain. The movement of CSL St-Laurent and the hundreds of cargo vessels along the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System this year will support more than 227,000 jobs and $35 billion in economic activity.