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Today, we opened a Smart City Challenge for mayors and city leaders across America to integrate emerging technology into their transportation networks and define what it means to be a Smart City when it comes to transportation.

We encourage cities to develop their own unique vision, partnerships, and blueprints to demonstrate to the world what a fully integrated, forward-looking urban transportation network looks like...

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When a relatively small vehicle, such as a passenger car, collides with the rear of a much larger vehicle, such as a tractor-trailer, the hood of the smaller vehicle can slide under the bed or chassis of the larger vehicle.  We call that "rear underride." In severe crashes, the smaller vehicle can underride the larger vehicle to such an extent that the larger vehicle can actually penetrate the passenger compartment of the smaller vehicle.

At the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, safety is our number one goal, so preventing underride is an important priority. 

Failed truck underride crash test

Most trailers and semitrailers are already required to have bars --or rear impact guards-- hanging down from the back of the trailer to prevent underride. But we know we can do better.

To enhance underride protection, NHTSA has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require more robust rear impact guards on trailers and semitrailers. Compared to current rear impact guard standards, these more robust standards will improve underride protection, particularly in higher speed crashes...

Continue Reading NHTSA proposes new Rear ››
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My career in public service has taught me that transportation is something we absolutely must do together. When I was the mayor of Charlotte, I made investments in transportation the center of the Queen City’s job creation and economic recovery, and the U.S. Department of Transportation played a critical role in helping us move forward.

So when President Obama asked me to serve in this position, I was both humbled and thrilled because I knew that the work of USDOT really matters. But I also knew, although we had been able to break ground on some ambitious projects in Charlotte, the larger reality was that projects were being canceled or delayed all over the country. The traditionally strong funding support authorized by the U.S. Congress was in fact at an all-time low. On my first day at USDOT, it had been more than eight years since Congress had passed a long-term surface transportation bill, and my efforts to push hard for a long term bill began immediately.

President Obama and Secretary Foxx in Minnesota at train plant

President Obama had been supportive of investing in first-class infrastructure and on Capitol Hill there was actually strong bipartisan support. But the message we kept hearing was, “let’s do this later.” I worked with my team to develop a campaign to turn the corner from “impossible” to “inevitable.”

So we scheduled hundreds of Congressional meetings. We went on two bus tours and I met with leaders in 43 states to galvanize support. The President and I even twice submitted our own surface transportation bill proposal, the GROW AMERICA Act, to give Congress a clear sense of the certainty, funding levels, and policies we need in the 21st century.

Today we finally broke through. President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act into law, marking the first long-term transportation bill passed by Congress in 10 years...

Continue Reading President Obama signs FAST ››
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Wednesday, I sat down with the Washington Post's Lois Romano as part of the Post's inGENuitY forum on Millennials and Entrepreneurship. You can watch or listen to the entire 15-minute interview below, but I have a few selected highlights of my own to share.

First, when Lois put me on the spot with an icebreaker asking, "Tesla or Prius?" I --pretty deftly, I think-- dodged an endorsement by offering a third, unbranded option, "Driverless."

Second, at DOT we're exploring and nurturing some very cutting-edge automobile technologies that will revolutionize the way Americans of all generations drive and ride, and that will improve traffic safety.

Third, there's no question that Gen Y wants transportation options like transit, biking, walking, and on-demand ride-sharing. For many, the availability of those options is a key factor in their choice of jobs and cities...

Continue Reading DOT has plenty to share at ››
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After 36 extensions, hundreds of Congressional meetings, two bus tours, visits to 43 states, and so much uncertainty, it has been a long and bumpy ride to a long-term transportation bill.  It’s not perfect, and there is still more left to do, but it reflects a bipartisan compromise I always knew was possible.

Continue Reading House passes Transportation ››
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Here's something you don't often hear about in the making of new regulations: negotiation, with interested stakeholders working toward consensus...together. It might sound like someone's fantasy of effective government, but that's exactly what we're exploring at DOT in our ongoing efforts to make flying easier for people with disabilities.

Through our rulemakings, we've removed many restrictions that previously discriminated against air travelers with disabilities.  For example, airlines may not refuse transportation based on a disability, and airlines may not limit the number of passengers with disabilities on a particular flight.  Airlines must also provide boarding and deplaning assistance for travelers with disabilities if requested, and they must make information that has been made available to other passengers available to passengers with visual and hearing disabilities.

Our latest step is hiring what's called a "neutral convenor" to consider the feasibility of a negotiated rulemaking to develop additional rules toward equal access for all air travelers. We have a number of goals we're pursuing, and our convenor, Richard Parker of the University of Connecticut School of Law, will assist us in determining if they can be achieved through regulatory negotiation...

Passenger in wheelchair uses airport kiosk

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Courtesy of Transport Topics, it's our pleasure to cross-post this good-news story from www.ttnews.com. Congratulations, John Schank, on your excellent safety record and on completing this important mission!

Lynden Transport driver John Schank has completed his 3,000-mile delivery of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which will be lit Dec. 2 by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) at 5 p.m. EST.

After a three-week, 10-stop tour that originated in Alaska, the 74-foot Lutz spruce from the Chugach National Forest arrived at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 20. Schank said he was “elated and felt privileged to be asked to do this.”

John Schank with his rig

Since Schank began driving for Lynden Transport in 1975, he has delivered millions of tons of supplies and materials for the Alaska pipeline construction and Prudhoe Bay oil fields over one of the most treacherous roads in America — the Dalton Highway. Schank holds the record for most miles driven of any driver who has operated a truck on the road from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska — 5 million, all without an accident...

Continue Reading Thanks to safe trucking, ››
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After a career of nearly 40 years in air traffic control and air traffic management, Steven Lang has retired from his post as Volpe’s director of Air Traffic Systems and Operations. Lang, who started his career in the U.S. Air Force in 1976 and then moved to FAA in 1984, helped change national standards to allow the use of closely spaced parallel runway operations.

The value of annual time and fuel savings from Lang's pioneering work reaches at least into the tens of millions of dollars.

With Lang's retirement, Volpe now seeks its next director of Air Traffic Systems and Operations, another pioneer who will continue Lang's tradition of fostering research that develops transformative solutions in aviation safety and efficiency...

Continue Reading Lang retires after 40 years ››
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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...

Continue Reading 60 years ago, a woman sat ››
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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...

Continue Reading Video covers upcoming ››
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