Small businesses embody the American dream of seizing opportunities. They represent innovation at its best. They’re the heart of the American economy.
I experienced this personally when I was the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, and most of the community’s businesses were small. In many ways, what I learned then is still relevant: leaders in government need to proactively reach out to small businesses and forge connections.
Yes, we want to make sure that small business owners aren't missing out on potential opportunities that could lead to expansion and new hires. But, we also want to make sure that we’re not missing out on what they offer, either. We want to make sure we’re tapping into their expertise.
DOT's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization pursues those two outcomes every day. And the Small Business Day they held here at DOT's DC Headquarters yesterday is just the most recent example of that pursuit...
Last month at NHTSA, we brought together many of our safety partners to discuss how we might better protect children when they ride school buses.
Today, thankfully, school buses are the safest way for children to get around. On average each year, four school-age children lost their lives in bus crashes from 2000 to 2012. Contrast that with the 490 school-age children killed in passenger vehicle crashes over that same time period and you begin to understand why parents can feel confident in their children’s safety when they get on the big yellow bus.
That said, NHTSA doesn’t accept that we have to lose any children in school bus tragedies—not a single one—and we brought experts together to ask tough questions about whether --and how-- we can make school bus travel even safer...
The work of advancing transit safety doesn’t take a summer vacation, and neither does the Transit Advisory Committee on Safety (TRACS).
TRACS is a safety advisory group chartered by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation that provides information, advice, and recommendations on transit safety matters to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Last week, along with FTA Senior Advisor Carolyn Flowers, I had the opportunity to take part in their latest meeting.
TRACS members are currently finishing up advisory work on two critical issues: fatigue management and preventing assaults on transit workers...
Last Friday, President Obama signed the 34th short-term surface transportation extension passed by Congress in the past 6 years, saying:
"Instead of long-term approaches where we can actually strategize on what are the most important infrastructure projects, how are they getting paid for, providing certainties to governors and mayors and states and localities about how they’re going to approach critical infrastructure projects -- roads, bridges, ports, airports -- instead, we operate as if we’re hand-to-mouth three months at a time, which freezes a lot of construction, which makes people uncertain, which leads to businesses not being willing to hire because they don’t have any long-term certainty."
Which is not to mention the fact that America's roads, rails, and transit systems --the ones that get you where you need to go and deliver the goods you use every day-- will continue to go underfunded and under-maintained. They will continue to be denied the upgrades that might ease congestion and more safely connect people to opportunity.
So beginning today and running throughout the August recess, we're going to turn our Instagram account over to you. Just snap a photo --please do it safely!-- of the worn-out infrastructure in your neck of the woods and share it with @USDOT using #ShowUsYourInfraWear...
With summer heat pounding down on cities and towns across America, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is again urging everyone to remember that heatstroke can be deadly to a child left in a hot car.
Other than crashes, heatstroke is the leading cause of death involving children 14 years and younger in motor vehicles. They represent 61 percent of all non-crash deaths in this age group. San Francisco State University’s Department of Geosciences estimates that, in 2014, at least 30 kids died from heatstroke. And, with several weeks of hot weather still to come, 10 kids have already died in 2015.
Heatstroke kills. But it is 100 percent preventable. So we're reminding everyone to protect children with this simple message: “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock.” Today, as part of National Heatstroke Prevention Day, we’ll be highlighting heatstroke dangers on Twitter throughout the day. You can follow our tweetup on @NHTSAgov using #checkforbaby and #heatstrokekills...
Underpinning DOT’s many safety programs and regulations is a wealth of data, much of it publicly shared. That data informs our decision-making and supports our objective of the safest possible outcomes for all users of the transportation system.
But that data also gets used by others pursuing similar safety goals, so we recognize the need to continually improve the value of data we collect and share, particularly as the quantity and variety of that data increase.
To help DOT better understand how we can improve our surface transportation safety data, we worked with the Center for Open Data Enterprise to hold an Open Data Roundtable last March. And today, the Center has released its report on that Roundtable...
Since 2009, our TIGER competitive grant program has provided a combined $4.1 billion to 342 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. That's a terrific outcome, right? Hundreds of good projects making it easier for people to get where they're going and easier for freight to get to markets. And any Department would be rightfully proud of that achievement --as DOT is.
But during that same period, demand has been so overwhelming that the Department received more than 6,000 applications requesting more than $124 billion. That means that for every project selected, 17 projects that communities across the country need go unfunded. And for every dollar requested, we have only been able to provide about 3 cents. Three cents.
For this year's TIGER grants, communities are facing the same disappointment: We've received 625 applications seeking $9.8 billion in funding, 20 times more than the $500 million Congress has made available. Again, we're seeing a demonstration of the continued need for transportation investment nationwide.
Now, we're looking forward to selecting the best of those projects, but the consistent number of high quality projects we’re unable to fund through TIGER every year demonstrates the need for Congress to give more communities access to this vital lifeline.
That's why earlier this year, we sent Congress the GROW AMERICA Act, a transportation proposal that included more than doubling the amount available for TIGER...
Today, our Department marked the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition to celebrating the law itself, a groundbreaking achievement in civil rights, I encouraged employees to celebrate DOT's achievement in implementing the ADA and making all aspects of life in America more accessible to all Americans.
This anniversary is a great day in the history of our country. It’s a great day in the history of the U.S. Department of Transportation. And the men and women of DOT are part of the reason that this 25th anniversary of the ADA is truly a cause for celebration.
Thanks to those who advocated for this law, those who crafted it, those who rallied the votes to pass it, and --yes-- those who have fought in the two and a half decades since then to make this law really work, tens of millions of Americans are no longer cut off from mainstream America. Tens of millions of Americans can now participate fully in society and achieve their potential...
When DOT and the rest of the transportation industry face our toughest challenges, we don't have the luxury of Commissioner Gordon's Bat-Phone. But we do have a secret weapon: Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center— and that's a pretty good substitute.
The Volpe Center was established in 1970 to provide analytical, scientific, and engineering support to a newly-established USDOT. Its mission? To improve America's transportation system by anticipating emerging issues and advancing transportation innovation. As dedicated public servants, the Volpe staff has devoted their careers to making transportation better for all of us. Whether they are coming up with exciting new ideas or supporting national transportation priorities, Volpe consistently delivers transformative transportation solutions.
Last week, I had the chance to tour the Center and meet some of the men and women who are moving transportation forward. It was a visit I won't soon forget —and not just because Volpe staff put together a video highlight reel, which I encourage you to watch below...
Automobile manufacturers have an obligation to repair safety defects in their products, and it's the job of our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to investigate possible defects and make sure that automakers fulfill that safety obligation.
And if you noticed that I used the word "safety" three times in the sentence above, there's a reason for that: Safety is this Department's number one priority, and we simply cannot ease up in our muscular pursuit of that priority, not for a moment. Consumers, the traveling public, and everyone who uses America's vast network of roads trusts their safety and the safety of their loved ones to us, and we take that trust very seriously.
That's why today's consent order from NHTSA regarding Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCA) response to its safety obligations is such a big step forward.
In this order, Fiat Chrysler acknowledges violations of its legal requirement to repair vehicles with safety defects. The company will submit to rigorous oversight, buy back some defective vehicles from owners, and pay as much as $105 million --the largest-ever civil penalty NHTSA has imposed...