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FMCSA Annual Awards Ceremony

Friday, December 8, 2017

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
The Honorable Elaine L. Chao
Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator
Annual Awards Ceremony
Washington, DC
Thursday, December 7, 2017


Thank you Cathy (Gautreaux) so much for that introduction. 

Good morning, everyone. I am so pleased to attend the Administrator’s awards recognizing outstanding performance by our colleagues in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

While this is my first time joining you as Secretary, I often attended ceremonies such as this when I served as Deputy Secretary. Recognizing outstanding performance has always been a favorite part of my job.  It is a pleasure to join Cathy Gautreax who is serving as Acting Administrator.  She comes to us from Louisiana where she has been involved in state and national trucking issues for more than three decades.  Cathy has only been here as short time, but she is already doing a wonderful job as Acting Administrator.   She has tremendous expertise, and we are so fortunate to have her at the Department!

This is important, because FMCSA’s mission is more timely than ever.   You are stewards of safety for the millions of people who travel by bus or haul goods by truck. So, I’m especially pleased to note that safety belt use by commercial bus and truck drivers increased 86 percent in 2016.  That’s a new record—up substantially from 65 percent in 2007. FMCSA played a role in achieving this milestone.  So, you are making a real difference for the traveling public and for our country.  Keep up the great work!

As you know, this Administration is committed to refurbishing and revitalizing our country’s critical infrastructure. Let me share with you my three top priorities as Secretary:

  1. Safety, which will always be number one,
  2. Infrastructure; and,
  3. Preparing for the future by encouraging innovation.

That last point is especially important because transportation is on the verge of one of the most transformational eras in history.  And every mode in the Department has an important role to play in building and shaping this future.

New technologies — such as automated driving systems — hold the promise to dramatically reduce highway fatalities and expand access to transportation for traditionally underserved communities. This technology is being tested on trucks, as well as passenger vehicles.  So, encouraging innovation while ensuring safety is more important than ever.

One of the most important things we can do to help usher in this new era is to implement the President’s regulatory reform agenda. That includes identifying unnecessary rules and processes that make little or no contribution to safety, and proposing alternatives that will achieve positive outcomes without compromising safety, security and privacy.  Every mode has a contribution to make. So, I look forward to working together with you on these and other important initiatives.  

Let me close by noting that we are all one team. We need to accomplish our mission together. We look to tap your expertise and support as the Department moves forward with an ambitious agenda for our country.  It is critical to work together, with the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and teamwork. 

So, congratulations to the 104 FMCSA colleagues receiving special recognition today. Thank you for all your hard work!

And let me also wish all of you, your family, friends and loved ones Happy Holidays!

Thank you.