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Sixty years ago today, Rosa Parks sat down on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama.  In doing so, she took a stand against an ordinance requiring black riders to surrender their seats to white riders. Her subsequent arrest mobilized the African-American community to boycott the Montgomery city buses and fueled the rise of Martin Luther King, Jr. as the nation’s leading civil rights voice. 

Rosa Parks on a transit bus

The boycott lasted 381 days. Thousands in Montgomery refused to take the bus, opting to carpool or walk to strike a blow to the city’s finances and make a very public demonstration against segregation. A year later, after some 42,000 people had participated, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling ordering desegregation of the city buses and the city of Montgomery complied.

One notable resident, an elderly woman who had walked to work during the year-long boycott, was asked how she felt in the wake of the changes. “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested,” she said...

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Within a single lifetime, the distance that humans could fly grew exponentially—from a few hundred feet with the Wright Flyer to nearly 240,000 miles with Apollo 11. In the early 1950s, the jet age shifted air travel from curiosity to commonplace, with commercial flight connecting previously far-flung corners of the world.

Dr. Cavolosky speaking during Volpe sessionToday, we are again on the cusp of many exciting challenges in transformative aeronautics, according to NASA Director of Airspace Operations and Safety John Cavolowsky. “Being able to define the concept space and the way in which we drive technology is, to me, surprisingly, the biggest challenge that we’ve had to address,” Cavolowsky said. “It’s a field that is evolving so quickly—what is the state of the art right now and how fast can we expect it to go?”

Cavolowsky spoke last month at Volpe, the National Transportation Systems Center, as part of "Beyond Traffic 2045: Reimagining Transportation." Volpe's 9-event thought leadership series closes tomorrow, December 1, with Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car program. You can join Volpe in person or by webinar for a fascinating look at how self-driving cars will reshape how we live in and move through our communities and cities...

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By Sunday morning, the turkey will have been eaten, perhaps a slice or two of pumpkin pie as well. Hours and hours of football will have been watched on television. Store shelves will have been decimated in the annual frenzy known as Black Friday. 

And millions of Americans will be hitting the highways to return home from Thanksgiving destinations near and far.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is a notoriously busy day of highway traffic, and that makes it equally notorious for flaring tempers and aggressive driving. That’s why the U.S. Senate recently passed a resolution designating it Drive Safer Sunday...

Highway crowded with cars and trucks

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With a long-term surface transportation bill being negotiated in Congress, data released yesterday indicating that highway crash deaths declined in 2014, and the rapid advance of connected vehicle technologies, we have a cornucopia of things to be grateful for in transportation this Thanksgiving. But, as promising as these are, they are also abstractions --a stack of paper, a set of numbers, research-- and I find myself instead thinking about people. 

On duty this week are men and women keeping America moving while the rest of us pause to celebrate Thanksgiving. Airport and airline workers; commercial truck drivers; transit crews; highway patrol officers; merchant mariners and port staff; railroad engineers, conductors, and station employees.

Then, there are the people behind our efforts to improve all the ways we move people and products. And while they might be taking it easy this week, I'm no less thankful for the innovators whose work has made our roads safer for everyone who uses them; our bridges more easily constructed and durable; and our transit systems better able to serve the riders who depend on them every day...

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This week, while many of us gather with our families and friends to give thanks, we at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) remind Fast Lane readers that many of America's commercial truck drivers won't be at their family's table. Instead, they'll be out there on the road, making sure that store shelves will be stocked for Black Friday, that the groceries your guests have consumed can be replenished, and that the wheels of our nation's economy continue to turn.

Our appreciation for the valuable role America's truckers play in our daily lives and in our economy is one reason we're so keen on making sure they have safe parking available on our highways.

Last August, we released the Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey results confirming a nationwide shortage of safe truck parking. The survey report pointed to a lack of truck parking information and capacity across the nation and called for public and private stakeholders to come together and find solutions.  The Department responded by convening the National Truck Parking Coalition to do just that.  And earlier this month, we held a roundtable with stakeholders to kick off the coalition's work...

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Thanksgiving is a time of family, food…and football! For many, it’s also about getting into the car to visit loved ones and friends. At the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), we urge you to buckle up during your Thanksgiving travel —and every day— because seat belts save lives.

NHTSA estimates that in recent years, seat belts saved the lives of 12,584 passenger vehicle occupants age 5 and older.  When you wear your seat belt while riding in the front seat of a car, your risk of fatal injury goes down by 45 percent. When riding in a truck, that risk is reduced by 60 percent.

In contrast, NHTSA estimates almost half —49 percent— of those who are killed each year in traffic crashes are not wearing seat belts. Failing to wear a seat belt certainly contributed to the 301 deaths from traffic crashes that occurred during a recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend...

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In Los Angeles County, a 2014 TIGER grant is going toward improvements on a 2-mile stretch of highway where the congested 57/60 freeways converge.  If you drive in the County, you probably know the 57/60 Confluence all too well...and for all of the wrong reasons.

The 57/60 Confluence is a vital route for the movement of goods from the Southern California ports.  The 60 Freeway carries trucks from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to warehouses in eastern Los Angeles and Riverside counties, as well as the entire United States. The 57/60 Confluence Project is named after the stretch of roadway where the 57 and 60 freeways become one and 17 lanes of traffic merge sharply into only 14, resulting in frequent traffic delays and accidents.  More than 356,000 trucks and cars use that segment each day, and drivers approaching the bottleneck attempt to weave across multiple lanes.  

Photo of traffic jam at the 57-60 confluence

Last year's TIGER grant is going toward the $260 million total cost of the project, expected in three phases, and earlier this month the cities of Diamond Bar and Industry kicked off the construction of phases one and two. 

This critical section of highway —with its intertwined freeways, dangerous lane configurations and heavy truck traffic— was ranked Number 1 for delays and truck accidents in California and Number 8 in the Nation by the American Transportation Research Institute. Caltrans ranked it among the top five most congested freeway interchanges in Los Angeles and Ventura counties...

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Photo of an unmanned aircraft in flightLast month, Secretary Foxx and I announced that the Department of Transportation would work to develop a process for owners of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to register their aircraft.

Registration will instill a sense of accountability and responsibility among UAS pilots, and also will prompt them to become educated about safe flying in the National Airspace System (NAS). For those who choose to ignore the rules and fly unsafely, registration is a tool that will assist us and our law enforcement partners in finding them.

We are moving quickly and flexibly to establish this new registry. Our first step was to appoint a UAS Task Force to develop recommendations for a streamlined registration process, and suggest which UAS could be exempt from registration due to a low safety risk. A group of 25 experts were chosen, based on experience, from across the UAS and manned aviation communities. They included hobbyists, retailers, manufacturers, law enforcement, airports and commercial and general aviation. They were advised by the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, and State along with the Office of Management and Budget and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We also accepted public comments on the same questions we asked the Task Force to consider. 

On Saturday, the Task Force will deliver its report to the Federal Aviation Administration. We will consider their recommendations and the public comments as we develop an Interim Final Rule on registration, which will likely be released next month and go into effect shortly thereafter. This step will be followed by another opportunity for the public to comment as we move toward issuing a final rule on registration. 

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Since we announced our 2015 TIGER grants late last month, we've been talking a lot about the tremendous difference TIGER projects make in their communities and about the impact they have on important national priorities like mobility, safety, sustainability, and even public health.

And yesterday at Houston's recently opened Buffalo Bayou Park, I had the great privilege of sharing one of our TIGER projects with one of America's strongest champions of infrastructure investment, Vice President Joe Biden.

The $15 million grant we awarded to the City of Houston in 2012 for construction of new, safe, and accessible connections to transit service is a powerful example of how DOT's TIGER can help communities achieve multiple goals with a single transportation project...

Photo of Vice President Biden speaking in Houston

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As many have written here in the Fast Lane, DOT is very enthusiastic about connected vehicle technology and the safety, mobility, and environmental benefits that it promises. We in the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) also recognize that this may be a new concept for some. That's why we have recently launched a new website describing the basics of connected vehicles.

Through this new site, everyone can understand the fundamentals of connected vehicles and learn why everyone at DOT is so excited about this promising technology.

Screen capture of the Connected Vehicles Basics website

Connected vehicle technology will wirelessly connect our vehicles to each other, to our roads, and to our personal mobile devices so they can exchange secure information about their position, speed, brake status, and more. It can also provide timely, situation-appropriate warnings and recommendations to drivers. The Connected Vehicles Basics website answers questions regarding how this technology works, what it makes possible, and how it will be used...

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