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Mission, History, Goals


The mission of the Department of Transportation (DOT)is to serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.

DOT was established by the Department of Transportation Act, Public Law 89-670, on October 15, 1966. DOT's first official day of operation was April 1, 1967.


Prior to the creation of the Department of Transportation, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation administered the functions now associated with the DOT. Although many realize the creation of the new Department was a legislative priority for President Lyndon Johnson, few know how much influence the head of the Federal Aviation Agencyhad on Johnson’s decision.

Just before he left office in June 1965,Federal Aviation AgencyAdministrator Najeeb Halaby wrote to President Johnson and suggested that transportation be elevated to a Cabinet-level post, and that the Federal Aviation Agencybe folded into the DOT. Halaby later wrote, "I guess I was a rarity – an independent agency head proposing to become less independent."

After four-and-a-half years as Administrator, Halaby had concluded that the agency could do a better job as part of an executive department that incorporated other government transportation programs. In particular, he had become increasingly frustrated over the development of a supersonic transport, because he thought the Defense Department had locked the Federal Aviation Agencyout of the Administration's decision-making for the program. Halaby decided that a Department of Transportation was essential to secure decisive transportation policy development. "One looks in vain," he wrote Johnson, "for a point of responsibility below the President capable of taking an evenhanded, comprehensive, authoritarian approach to the development of transportation policies or even able to assure reasonable coordination and balance among the various transportation programs of the government."

With the appointment of John Connor as the new Secretary of Commerce and Alan Boyd as Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation, Halaby thought “the time appears ripe for bold moves in transportation organization.” President Johnson, not yet thinking of a new department, had told both Connor and Boyd upon their appointments, that he wanted a bold and imaginative transportation program for the upcoming year. Halaby’s subsequent suggestion proved bolder than anyone could have imagined.

Halaby’s letter caused a stir within the White House. It was not only the novelty of a transportation department, but that it came from the head of the Federal Aviation Agency. Halaby had long been associated with those who had fought for an independent aviation agency. If his views were shared by a part of the aviation community, one of the major obstacles to reorganization would be eliminated.

Charles Schultze, director of the Bureau of the Budget, and Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Special Assistant to the President, pushed for the new Department. They urged Boyd, to explore the prospects of having a transportation department initiative prepared as part of Johnson's 1966 legislative program. Boyd created a task force to study the issue, and on October 22, 1965, the task force submitted recommendations that advocated the establishment of a Department of Transportation. The task force suggested the new Department include the Federal Aviation Agency, the Bureau of Public Roads, the Coast Guard, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the Great Lakes Pilotage Association, the Car Service Division of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the subsidy function of the Civil Aeronautics Board, and the Panama Canal.

The new Federal Aviation AgencyAdministrator, William McKee, however, did not share his predecessor’s views and strongly opposed the plan. He feared that a new transportation department would lack the proper orientation and expertise needed for the specialized technologies needed in aviation. More importantly, he wanted to keep his agency’s direct access to the White House. Once McKee argued his case, however, he informed President Johnson that he would accept the president’s final decision.

In his January 1966 State of the Union address, Johnson announced his intention to create a Department of Transportation. Many within the Federal Aviation Agencyand aviation community applauded the announcement believing an integrated transportation system would benefit aviation. Two months later, on March 6, 1966, Johnson sent Congress a bill to establish a Department. The new agency would coordinate and manage transportation programs, provide leadership in the resolution of transportation problems, and develop national transportation policies and programs. The Department would accomplish this mission under the leadership of a Secretary, an Under Secretary, and four staff Assistant Secretaries whose functions, though unspecified, would expedite the line authority between the Secretary, Under Secretary, and the heads of the Operating Administrations.

A master of the art of legislative maneuvering, Johnson carefully oversaw both the introduction of the transportation bill and its movement through Congress. With the proposed legislation the President sent the Congress a carefully worded message recommending that it enact the bill as part of his attempt to improve public safety and accessibility. Johnson recognized the dilemma the American transportation system faced. While it was the best-developed system in the world, it had proved incapable of meeting the needs of the time. "America today lacks a coordinated transportation system that permits travelers and goods to move conveniently and efficiently from one means of transportation to another, using the best characteristics of each." Johnson maintained that an up-to-date transportation system was essential to the national economic health and well-being, including employment, standard of living, accessibility, and the national defense.

After much compromise with a Congress jealous of its constitutional power of the purse and its relationship with the older bureaucracies, Johnson signed into law the Department of Transportation enabling act on October 15, 1966. Compromise made the final version of the bill less than what the White House wanted. The two important differences between President Johnson's proposal and the final DOT Act were: the Maritime Administration was left out, and the actions of the Federal Aviation AgencyAdministrator relating to safety and the decisions of the NTSB, were designated "administratively final" with appeals only to the courts. Despite the compromise, the act resulted in producing the most sweeping reorganization of the Federal Government since the National Security Act of 1947.

With the stroke of his pen, President Johnson created the fourth largest Federal agency and brought approximately 95,000 employees in to the new organization. The Department of Transportation Act (Public Law 89-670) brought 31 previously scattered Federal elements under the wing of one Cabinet Department. The legislation provided for five initial major operating elements within the Department.

Four of these organizations were headed by an Administrator: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which was previously the independent Federal Aviation Agency; the Federal Highway Administration; the Federal Railroad Administration; and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. The new Department also contained the U.S. Coast Guard, which was headed by a Commandant and had previously been part of the Treasury Department.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) Act also created, within the new Department, a five-member National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The Act charged the NTSB with (1) determining the cause or probable cause of transportation accidents and reporting the facts, conditions, and circumstances relating to such accidents; and (2) reviewing on appeal the suspension, amendment, modification, revocation, or denial of any certificate or license issued by the Secretary or by an Administrator. In the exercise of its functions, powers, and duties, the Board was made independent of the Secretary and the [Alan Stephenson Boyd] other offices and officers of the Department.

Three months after signing theDepartment of TransportationAct, on January 16, 1968, Johnson appointed the first Secretary of Transportation, Alan Boyd. The newDOT began full operations on April 1, 1967.

Significant Transportation Milestones

Department of Transportation Act – 1967

On October 15, President Johnson signs the Department of Transportation Act, which creates the new Cabinet-level department with five operating elements: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which was previously the independent Federal Aviation Agency; the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA); the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC); and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Department of TransportationAct also created within the new Department a five-member National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The newDOT began full operations on April 1, 1967.

Highway Safety Act – 1970

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was officially established by the Highway Safety Act of 1970 as the successor to the National Highway Safety Bureau. It is responsible for reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. This is accomplished by setting and enforcing safety performance standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, and through grants to state and local governments to enable them to conduct effective local highway safety programs.

Inspector General Act – 1978

On October 12, 1978, the Inspector General Act established12 Federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), including the Department of Transportation

Maritime Administration – 1981

The Maritime Administration (MARAD) moves from the Department of Commerce into the Department of Transportation.

Federal Transit Administration – 1991

The Urban Mass Transit Administration became the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) with the Department of Transportation.

Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act – 1999

The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act creates the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) effective January 1, 2000, the second founding of the agency. Congress believed FHWA had given insufficient attention to motor carrier safety; a single-focus safety agency was needed

U.S. Coast Guard – 2003

The Coast Guard formally transfers from the Department of Transportation to the newly-created Department of Homeland Defense.

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration – 2004

George W. Bush signs the Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act of 2004, which, among other things, creates the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The new agency has responsibility for developing and enforcing regulation for the safe operation of the country's 2.6 million mile pipeline infrastructure.

New DOT Headquarters – 2007

In the spring 2007, the Department of Transportation moved into its new headquarters in Southeast Washington, DC

Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology – 2014

The Research and Innovative Technology Administration became the new Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology per language in the 2014 Omnibus spending bill.

Meet the Secretaries

For fifty years, the Department of Transportation has been working to ensure that the nation’s transportation system is safe, efficient, accessible, and environmentally friendly. These 17 Secretaries of Transportation have provided the necessary leadership to help all Americans enjoy the freedom to travel nationally and internationally for business and pleasure. Click on the photos below to learn about the individual contributions of each Secretary.

Alan S Boyd, 1967

On January 16, Alan S. Boyd was sworn in as the first U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Judge James Durfee of the U.S. Court of Claims administered the oath in the East Room of the White House as Mrs. Boyd and President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson looked on. The President said Secretary Boyd's major assignment would be to "coordinate a National Transportation Policy."

A key figure in the establishment and organization of the new department, Secretary Boyd served as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Transportation and had six years ofexperience with the Civil Aeronautics Board before becoming the first Secretary of Transportation. During his tenure, the first national highway safety and federal motor carrier vehicle standards were issued and the Urban Mass Transportation Administration was transferred from Housing and Urban Development toDOT. He was later President of Amtrak and joined the Airbus Industries of North America.

John A. Volpe, 1969

On January 22, Chief Justice Earl Warren administered the oath of office to Secretary of Transportation, John A. Volpe, in a White House ceremony as President Richard Nixon looked on. Volpe was the first Federal Highway Administrator to later become Secretary of Transportation.

During his tenure, Volpe established the National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) as a separate Operating Administration and passed laws to modernize the Nation's airport-airways system, upgrade urban transit systems (using the highway trust fund for the first time), and create the national rail passenger system (Amtrak). With Volpe appointee General Benjamin O. Davis, the Federal Aviation Administration instituted an anti-hijacking program. In 1990, the Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA, was renamed in honor of then-former Secretary Volpe.

Claude S. Brinegar, 1973

Chief Justice Warren Burger administered the oath of office to Claude S. Brinegar along with 19 other Cabinet and subcabinet members on February 2. Although President Richard Nixon introduced the Chief Justice at the ceremony he did not stay to watch his nominees take the oath of office because of a meeting at the British Embassy.

Secretary Brinegar confronted railroad revitalization and regulatory reform, reauthorization of Federal highway programs, and the impact of transportation on energy consumption and on the environment. During his tenure, he championed legislation that led to the creation of Conrail, the government-owned freight railroad in the Northeast, adoption of a national speed limit of 55 m.p.h. as a fuel conservation measure, and the creation of Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. Later Brinegar became Vice Chairman of the Unocal Corporation.

William T. Coleman Jr., 1975

On March 7, in a White House ceremony attended by President Gerald R. Ford, William T. Coleman, Jr., became the first African-American to serve as Secretary of Transportation. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Coleman’s friend and colleague, administered the oath of office. President Ford told the guests that the new Secretary had a mandate to help save energy, develop mass transportation, strengthen the railroads, and ensure an equitable and stern enforcement of the 55 m.p.h. speed limit brought on by oil shortages. His tenure would be marked by direct involvement in settling highway controversies.

During his tenure, he created the first Statement of National Transportation Policy in U.S. history. He also opened the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's automobile test facilityin East Liberty, Ohio, and established the Materials Transportation Bureau to address pipeline safety and the safe shipment of hazardous materials. In, perhaps, his most controversial decision, Coleman allowed limited transatlantic service for the supersonic transport plant, the Concorde, a decision which angered the majority of environmental groups concerned largely with the effects of noise pollution. Close on the heels of the Concorde decision in terms of controversy was Coleman's decision to defer the mandatory installation of airbags in all new automobiles.

On leaving the Department, Coleman returned to Philadelphia and subsequently became a partner in the Washington office of the Los Angeles-based law firm O'Melveny & Myers. On September 29, 1995, President William "Bill" Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1983, with the election quickly approaching, the Reagan Administration stopped supporting the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) position against Bob Jones University that overtly discriminatory groups were ineligible for certain tax exemptions. Coleman was appointed to argue the now unsupported lower court position before the Supreme Court, and won in Bob Jones University v. United States.

Brock Adams, 1977

Chief Justice Warren Burger swore in Brock Adams as Secretary of Transportation, in a low key ceremony on February 1 that included the administering of the oath to other Cabinet members.

As Secretary, Adams challenged the auto industry to make dramatic changes in design to achieve greater fuel efficiency and mandated the installation of airbags. He strongly supported significant regulatory reform in transportation, and oversaw a major program for repair and improvement of railway service along the Boston-to-Washington, DC corridor. He also achieved domestic airline deregulation in 1978 legislation. Adams later served as the senior U. S. Senator for the State of Washington.

Neil Goldschmidt, 1979

Multnomah County, Oregon, Circuit Court Judge Irving Steinbock administered the oath of office to Neil Goldschmidt on August 15, with Goldschmidt’s wife Margaret and President Jimmy Carter in attendance.

During his tenure, Goldschmidt oversaw the enactment of regulations for child restraints in vehicles, and established the new Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization established within the Department. Under his term, both the Stagger Rail Act and the Motor Carrier Act were passed, deregulating the railroad and trucking industries, respectively. He also created the National Task Force on Ridesharing to encourage carpooling and vanpooling as ways to save fuel. Goldschmidt served as Governor of Oregon from 1987-1991, and then opened his own law practice.

Drew Lewis, 1981

Drew Lewis became Secretary of Transportation on January 23.

As Secretary, Lewis led the Administration’s support for legislation to allow the sale of the Federal Government's interest in Conrail. In 1981, the Maritime Administration transferred to DOT from the Commerce Department. During the PATCO (air traffic controllers union) strike in 1981, Lewis, working with the Federal Aviation Administration, helped to keep the air transport system running safely. He provided support that led to passage of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, a comprehensive transportation funding and policy act. The companion Highway Revenue Act of 1982 added a nickel to the gas tax (the first such increase since 1961), with four cents dedicated to restore interstate highways and bridges, and one cent for public transit. The Act also set a goal of 10 percent for participation of disadvantaged business enterprises in Federal-aid projects. Lewis went on to chair the Union Pacific Corporation in Bethlehem, PA.

Elizabeth Hanford Dole, 1983

On February 1, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor administered the oath of office to Elizabeth Hanford Dole, who became the first woman to serve as Secretary of Transportation. President Ronald Reagan looked on as Mrs. Mary Hanford, Dole's mother held the Bible.

Secretary Dole helped resolve many safety-related issues, resulting in deadlines for installing airbags and other passive restraints in motor vehicles, major increases in seat belt usage by the public and incentives to manufacturers who equip new cars with airbags. She turned over the Federal Aviation Administration's National and Dulles airports in the Washington, D.C. area to regional authority and was a leader in privatizing Federal assets, including the $1.9 billion sale of government-owned Conrail. Mrs. Dole later served as the president of the Red Cross.

James H. Burnley, IV, 1987

Judge Kenneth Starr swore in James H. Burnley, IV, as Secretary of Transportation in the Roosevelt Room of the White House with President Ronald Reagan in attendance on December 3. Burnley served as Deputy Secretary and General Counsel during Secretary Dole's Administration and was appointed secretary in 1987 upon her departure.

As Secretary, he emphasized programs to eliminate drug use by issuing regulations requiring testing of employees in safety of security-sensitive positions in transportation-related industries. He implemented policies to encourage greater private sector participation in meeting transportation needs, and supported Coast Guard efforts to upgrade equipment and facilities. Burnley moved on to the law firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts, and Trowbridge.

Samuel K Skinner, 1989

U.S. District Court Judge Joel M. Flaum administered the oath of office to Samuel K. Skinner on February 6, in the Federal Aviation Administration auditorium, with President Reagan and Illinois Governor James R. Thompson in attendance.

Dubbed the "Master of Disaster," Skinner handled crises including the Eastern Airlines strike; the Exxon Valdez oil spill; a California earthquake; Hurricane Hugo; and civilian transportation support for Operation Desert Shield/Dessert Storm. He issued a comprehensive National Transportation Policy to guide transportation into the 21st century. During his tenure, legislation was passed to reduce aircraft noise, expand airport capacity, and authorize a landmark Federal surface transportation program. Skinner became White House Chief of Staff in December 1991.

Andrew H. Card, 1992

On March 11, Supreme Court Justice Clarence D. Thomas administered the oath of Office to Andrew H. Card under a DC-3 in the main hall of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

During the summer of 1992, President Bush named Card to head a task force to coordinate Federal disaster recovery efforts following Hurricane Andrew, the most devastating natural disaster in recent American history, sweeping across the Bahamas and devastating the transportation infrastructure and some 200,000 people living on Florida's southeastern coast and in parts of Louisiana. Later in his tenure, Card called for the formation of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, to establish guides for all the data collected by DOT, and to publish this information, making it available inside and outside the Government. Card also signed an agreement with the EPA and Department of the Army streamlining the NEPA and Section 404 wetlands permit processes.

Federico Peña, 1993

Chief Justice William Rehnquist swore in 16 Clinton nominees simultaneously, including Federico Peña as Secretary of Transportation. Federico F. Peña began his service as the 12th Secretary of Transportation on January 21. Peña later served as Secretary of Energy under President Clinton.

During his term, he increased the global competitiveness of the transportation industry; improved the safety of travel; streamlined the Department of Transportation, and invested more in the Nation's infrastructure than any other Secretary serving before him. Among his accomplishments, Peña signed aviation agreements with 40 Nations opening lucrative markets for American airlines and cargo carriers as well as fostering easier travel for Americans and tourist to the U.S. He also downsized the DOT workforce by 11,000 positions, while upsizing transportation infrastructure investments by 10 percent. Upon leaving DOT, Peña joined the private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners.

Rodney E. Slater, 1997

In a ceremony held in the Oval Office on February 14, Tennessee Federal District Judge Curtis Collier, a friend of Rodney Slater's from his hometown of Marianna, Arkansas swore in Rodney E. Slater was sworn as the Secretary of Transportation. Slater was nominated to the post after serving as Federal Highway Administrator since 1993. President Bill Clinton said in nominating Mr. Slater to the post of Secretary, "He has built bridges both of steel and of goodwill to bring people closer together." He is only the second person in history to hold both posts – the first was John A. Volpe.

As Secretary, Slater succeeded in gaining bipartisan support in congress for his projects. In particular, the passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21 Century made a record $200 billion investment in surface transportation. The Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment Reform Act for the 21st Century provided $46 billion to provide safety and security of the Nation’s aviation system. He also negotiated 40 Open Skies agreements with other countries. Under his leadership, the first International Transportation Symposium was held, with representatives of more than ninety countries in attendance. After his tenure at DOT, Slater joined the Washington, DC-based law firm Patton Boggs LLP.

Norman Y. Mineta, 2001

On January 25, Vice President Dick Cheney swore Norman Y. Mineta in as Secretary of Transportation in the White House Oval Office, with President George W. Bush in attendance. He had been offered the post eight years previously by Bill Clinton, but had turned down. He was the only Democrat to have served in Bush's Cabinet and the first Secretary of Transportation to have previously served in a Cabinet position. He had served as Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton from 2000-2001. He became the first Asian American to hold the position, and only the fourth person to be a member of Cabinet under two Presidents from different political parties. Mineta had served as member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975-1995.

As Secretary of Transportation, Mineta worked to repair and reopen major highways, seaports, and airports after Hurricane Katrina. He oversaw the closing of and reopening of the national airspace system after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He also guided the creation of the Transportation Security Administration – an agency with more than 65,000 employees – the largest mobilization of a new Federal agency since World War II. In mid–December of 2004, Mineta unveiled the Next Generation Air Transportation System plan, a collaboration of six Federal agencies to modernize the air traffic system. After leaving the White House, Secretary Mineta served as Vice Chairman of Hill & Knowlton based in its Washington, DC office, providing counsel and strategic advice to clients on a wide range of business and political issues. Recognized for his leadership, Secretary Mineta has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom – our Nation’s highest civilian honor – and the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, which is awarded for significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States.

Mary E. Peters, 2006

On October 17, Joshua Bolten, President George W. Bush’s chief of staff administered oath of office to Mary E. Peters, with the President and Ms. Peter’s husband in attendance. In 2001, the President asked Peters to lead the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). As FHWA Administrator from 2001 to 2005, she placed special emphasis on finding new ways to invest in road and bridge construction, including innovative public-private partnerships that help build roads faster and at less expense. She also was a strong advocate for using new technology to reduce construction time, saving taxpayer money and resulting in safer, longer-lasting roads and highways.

As Transportation Secretary, Peters took a hardline approach to efficient use of taxpayer dollars, made surface and air congestion reduction a national priority and dramatically improved highway safety numbers. She worked with the Administration and the Congress to enact a multi-year surface transportation bill, Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). She also spearheaded efforts to find new ways to invest in infrastructure and advocated the use of new technology to reduce construction time while saving taxpayer dollars and ensuring safer and stronger roads. She advocated the concept of public-private partnerships to improve transportation infrastructure. Peters opened a transportation consulting office after leaving the Department.

Ray H. LaHood, 2009

Linda Washington, Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Administration swore Ray H. LaHood in as the 16th U.S. Secretary of Transportation at the Department of Transportation headquarters building on January 23. LaHood’s wife, Kathy, son, Sam, and Assistant Majority Leader, U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin observed the ceremony.

Secretary LaHood changed the way the Department of Transportation viewed its mandate. He shifted DOT’s emphasis on highways to include a larger discussion of mobility options, from high-speed rail to local transit to biking and even walking. Under LaHood, DOT began talking about smart transportation as an essential ingredient in creating more livable and sustainable communities. He emphasized that transportation was inseparable from housing, education, the environment, and the economy. For the first time, DOT, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development began coordinating policy. In the 21st Century transportation model shepherded by LaHood, state and metropolitan leaders have to come up with their own innovative (and cost-effective) approaches to transportation problems, coordinating with the Federal Government. He is probably best known for his campaign to stop distracted driving. LaHood subsequently became co-chairman of the infrastructure advocacy group Building America’s Future.

Anthony Foxx, 2013

Judge Nathaniel Jones swore in Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as the Nation’s 17th Secretary of Transportation in a ceremony at U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters on July 2. The ceremony was attended by Foxx’s wife, Samara, and their two children, Hillary and Zachary. Judge Jones used a Bible belonging to Secretary Foxx’s great-grandparents, Peter and Ida Kelly. Secretary Foxx worked for Judge Jones as a law clerk for the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals after law school and invited Judge Jones to administer the oath of office.

As Secretary, Anthony Foxx is working to improve safety in all modes of transportation. He has issued a final rule advancing commercial pilot training, launched the Everyone Is a Pedestrian initiative, and shut down more than 100 bus companies with the most egregious safety and compliance problems. He also announced the Federal Government would require vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication in new vehicles, which would help improve safety by allowing vehicles to "talk" to each other so they can warn drivers if a crash is imminent. He issued a record $35 million fine against General Motors because of the automaker’s failure to report a safety defect to the Government in a timely manner. Foxx has overseen billions of dollars in grants for transportation infrastructure improvements, led efforts for new oil train safety efforts, and strengthened ties with international partners.


Safety Overview

We at DOT must work harder than ever before to give the American people what they need when it comes to transportation, and the most important thing they are counting on us to deliver is safety.From day one until today, and on into the future, the pursuit of improved transportation safety has been and will remain the Department of Transportation's top priority. 

For example, in the Department's earliest years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) developed an anti-hijacking screening system and Congress expanded the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) safety oversight authority to include track maintenance and equipment standards.  In the decades since then, we have advanced countless measures to increase safety in every mode of transportation.

Most recently, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) began vigorous oversight of public transit safety, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has continued its efforts to educate drivers about the dangers of impaired driving, distraction, and heatstroke.

The Mayors' Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets encourages city leaders to raise the bar for bicyclist and pedestrian safety by joining a year-long effort in which Mayors and other elected city officials lead a call to action and form local action teams that take on one or more Challenge activities. is a consumer-oriented website operated by NHTSA and featuring valuable information on vehicle safety ratings, recalls, child safety seats, tire safety, and more.

Look Before You Book is the consumer-facing home of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's motorcoach safety program where travelers can research bus and driver safety data on passenger carriers before booking motorcoach travel.

Safe Transportation of Energy Products, or STEP, is the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration program to enhance the safe transport of crude oil by rail through safety alerts, regulations, proper classification of energy products, improvements to rail operations and equipment, minimizing risks, improving tank car survivability, emergency response training and information, and scientific research.

Railroad Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention is the FRA's program to reduce the number of deaths at America's more than 212,000 highway-rail grade crossings, where a public highway, road, street, or private roadway, including associated sidewalks, and pathways, crosses railroad tracks at the same level as the street.

Recent Safety Actions

Opportunity Overview

Through transportation, we can help ensure that the rungs on the ladder of opportunity aren’t so far apart and that the American dream is still within reach for those who are willing to work for it.

Transportation plays a critical role in getting Americans from their communities to economic opportunity and bringing economic opportunity into communities. The choices we make regarding transportation infrastructure at the Federal, State, and local levels can revitalize communities, create pathways to work, and connect hardworking Americans to a better quality of life.

In 1973, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which for the first time allowed states to use highway trust fund dollars to support public transit. That's just one of the ways DOT has helped connect Americans to opportunities that might have otherwise been beyond their reach. DOT continues to help Americans reach opportunity by ensuring that our transportation system provides reliable, safe, and affordable ways for people to reach jobs, education, and other essential services outside their communities. More recently, DOT investments in new and existing transit facilities like the Union Depot in St. Paul, Minnesota, have helped stimulate private investment and created jobs within communities.

From the Secretary of Transportation's personal leadership in this area to our many Operating Administration programs, below are several examples of current DOT initiatives to connect Americans to opportunity.

The Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program helps decision-makers, transportation officials, and planning staff build skills in planning, consensus building, and understanding policy guidance and regulations so they can better address transportation needs in their communities.

The TPCB Public Involvement Techniques Guide offers a variety of public involvement techniques available to transportation agencies and assists practitioners in coordinating full public involvement, which in turn helps residents have a greater say in the projects and plans that will affect their communities.

The Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development program from the Federal Transit Administration offers funding to help train a new generation of skilled workers and support long-term careers in the public transportation industry.

DOT's Local Hiringinitiative seeks to enhance opportunities for local workers to obtain jobs on infrastructure projects by ending 40 years of Federal policies preventing grant recipients from implementing hiring programs that give preference to the very people who live in the communities where they’re building projects.

The TOD Technical Assistance Initiative provides technical assistance and support for transit oriented development (TOD) activities focused on supporting economically distressed communities across the country with assistance that ranges from on-the-ground support to web-based tools.

TheLadders of Opportunity Transportation Empowerment Pilot is helping build and restore connections, develop workforce capacity, and catalyze neighborhood revitalization in seven communities by providing technical assistance and by working to attract public and private resources to game-changing transportation projects.

Recent Opportunity Actions

Innovation Overview

From the introduction of anti-lock braking systems in American automobiles and the National Passenger Railroad Corporation (Amtrak) in the 1970s to the marine highways and hydrogen fuel-cell transit buses put into service over the past decade, DOT has enthusiastically supported deployment of concepts that have made American transportation stronger and will make it stronger in the future.

That support continues today. The programs listed below are just a sampling of this Department's current efforts to drive transportation innovation.

Beyond Traffic is our draft framework for the future that underscores critical decision points facing the country, by means of data driven analysis, research, expert opinions and public engagement. 

Autonomous and Connected Vehicle technologies promise to wirelessly connect vehicles to each other, to roads, and to personal mobile devices so they can exchange secure information about their position, speed, and more. These technologies will help us move about more safely and help us get where we're going more effectively, whether we're on foot, on bike, or in a vehicle.

The Smart City Challenge is our way of encouraging cities to show what is possible when they use technology to connect transportation assets into an interactive data-fueled network. The challenge will award up to $40 million in Federal funding to one medium-sized city, selected through a nationwide competition.

The Build America Transportation Investment Center, which we call BATIC, serves as the single point of contact and coordination for states, municipalities and transportation project sponsors looking to use Federal expertise, apply for Federal credit programs, and explore ways to access private capital in public private partnerships.

NextGen, the Federal Aviation Administration's next generation approach to managing our National Airspace System, is transforming our radar-based air traffic control system to a more efficient satellite-based system. It is delivering benefits today that increase efficiency and flexibility while reducing aviation's environmental footprint and enhancing safety. 

Every Day Counts (EDC) is the Federal Highway Administration's initiative to speed up delivery of highway projects and address the challenges presented by limited budgets. EDC is a state-based model to identify and rapidly deploy proven but underused innovations to shorten the project delivery process, enhance roadway safety, reduce congestion, and improve environmental sustainability.

Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017
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