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Yesterday, we dared to write a blog post celebrating data. Today, we are unapologetically following that with a post celebrating wireless technology. The transportation connection? With DOT support, vehicle-to-vehicle communication is coming to the automobile market, and it will make our lives safer and help us go Beyond Traffic.

As we wrote here last month about this game-changing technology, "when a car can see what a driver can't, yours could warn you of a potential crash or icy roads ahead; advise you of a traffic jam ahead and automatically recalculate your travel route; or even help you locate an available parking space."

And it appears that the editors of MIT's Technology Review were listening. Because when the Review released its list of "10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2015" in late February, Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication was right there. Listed among the key contributors were our very own National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as the University of Michigan, where we launched our first large-scale V2V pilot program. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Office of Research Technology (OSTR) here at DOT have also been instrumental...

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Let's start with a confession: here at DOT, we love data. Miles of freight rail, number of bridges, on-time flight arrivals, transit passenger trips, port economic activity--all of it. Those facts and figures help us tell the story of how American transportation affects each and every one of us.

Some numbers are staggeringly high: the value of goods shipped in the US in 2012? More than 13$ trillion. Some are impressively low: the number of extended tarmac delays in the US for domestic and international flights in December 2014? Exactly zero.

All of that data is compiled by our Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) in DOT's Office of Research and Technology. And this week, BTS released what we think is a real treat: State Transportation by the Numbers Profiles. If you're curious about how your state is moving or what your state is moving, these easy-to-read profiles have a lot to offer...

Transportation capsule for Wisconsin

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Fast Lane readers know I believe very strongly that our budget is only as good as how it's spent and, more importantly, the people whose lives it improves. That's why I've emphasized projects that create what we call "ladders of opportunity," where we not only connect people to better schools, jobs, and health care –but also to better lives.

There's another powerful way that investing in a bridge or rail project is more than an investment in a piece of infrastructure: that’s when local residents get a shot at building it.

It's called "local hiring," and today, DOT is proud to embrace it...

Ledaya Epps with Labor Secretary Tom Perez

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As part of a team of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration representatives, I recently returned from a technical assistance visit to Delhi, where we assisted in opening India’s first alcohol breath test device certification laboratory –a foundational step in building a strong and defensible national impaired driving program.

While we are far from resolving the impaired driving problem in our own country, our recent National Roadside Survey reminds us that we have certainly made progress. The rate of driver alcohol use across the U.S. dropped by nearly 80 percent over the past four decades.

And along the way, we have learned many lessons that could benefit other nations on the same path...

Edward Conde briefs officials in IRTE lab

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Two recent commuter rail accidents --one in New York and one in California-- are a tragic reminder that drivers need to respect railroad grade crossings. And, as part of its ongoing efforts to improve grade crossing safety, the Federal Railroad Administration has launched a campaign to make sure drivers are getting that message.

FRA's new campaign will improve safety by strengthening enforcement and increasing safety awareness at America's grade crossings.

The first phase calls upon local law enforcement agencies to increase their visibility at grade crossings and issue citations to drivers that violate rules of the road at crossings. Subsequent phases will deploy smarter uses of technology, increase public awareness of grade crossing safety, support improved signage, strengthen partnerships with states and local safety agencies, and call for new rail crossing safety funding...

Photo of Metra grade crossing in Illinois

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With America's population expected to grow by 70 million during the next three decades, there is no question that we will have to find ways to get more out of our transportation networks. Figuring out how to do that is one of the key goals of our "Beyond Traffic: Framework for the Future."

And thanks to a two-city pilot program --in San Diego and Dallas-- we know that one useful solution is Integrated Corridor Management or ICM. With ICM, the separate data systems that monitor road congestion, incident reports, pavement conditions, and rail and transit operations are combined into a single, powerful tool.

Beyond Traffic graphic

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It is hard to overstate America’s reliance on a safe and efficient freight network.  This network is the circulation system that fuels our economy health and helps secure our Nation, and the Obama Administration has consistently emphasized the importance of improving our infrastructure.

That is exactly what brought me to Quincy, IL, earlier this month.  With $12 billion in goods transported to global markets each year through Quincy by road, rail, or river, this community is a domestic and international economic hub. 

Because our population will grow by 70 million during the next 30 years --and to support that population our freight volume will have to increase by 45 percent-- community leaders in Quincy are working with DOT's Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC) to develop a port that can support the region’s expected freight growth...

Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen walks the site in Quincy

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Last month here in the Fast Lane, I launched DOT's Mayor's Challenge For Safer People and Safer Streets. Today, I'm pleased to say that 86 communities from across the U.S. have committed to join the Mayors' Challenge and improve safety for bicycle riders and pedestrians of all ages and abilities over the next year.

And the good news is, there's still time for more cities to sign up.

The Challenge will showcase local practices to improve safety, share tools for local leaders to take action, and promote partnerships to advance pedestrian and bicycle safety. Mayors, other elected officials, and team leaders from registered cities will attend a summit in March then return to their communities to start taking action in seven different challenge areas...

Map of U.S. showing cities registered for Mayors' Challenge

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America’s rail transit systems already offer one of the safest ways to travel about your local community, and we at the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are working to make public transportation by rail even safer.

That's why, last Friday, Secretary Foxx announced a new proposed rule that will improve, modernize and transform rail transit safety oversight to help ensure the increased level of safety expected by the millions of passengers who use rail transit every day.

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Last Friday afternoon, our GROW AMERICA Express bus tour pulled into Washington, DC's, Union Station after a 1,100-mile journey through five states. We had gone on the road four days earlier for one reason: to encourage Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill.

In Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and DC, I saw great examples of the kind of investment in transportation infrastructure that can help communities grow, help businesses compete, and help people get more safely and reliably to jobs and other opportunities.

We also visited places where strong projects that would achieve those same goals were stuck perpetually on the launch pad.

Secretary Foxx amid crowd of stakeholders at DC's Union Station
Many thanks to everyone who turned out to welcome us back to DC!
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