As we prepare for the holidays, I want to thank you again for welcoming a new team and for your work to advance the Department’s mission for our country. Together, we accomplished a great deal!
WASHINGTON – In late-breaking news, the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved an application submitted by a Mr. Kris Kringle (d/b/a “Santa Claus”) for special air transportation operating authority.
Earlier this month, the Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC) – a new federal committee created to advise the Federal Highway Administration – met at the National Highway Institute in Arlington, Va., for its inaugural meeting. As directed by Congress, the MAC’s task is to identify engineering-related infrastructure solutions that can reduce fatalities involving motorcyclists. This is no small endeavor. Data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 5,286 of the 37,461 roadway fatalities in 2016 involved motorcycles – representing a 5 percent increase over the previous year.
The MAC consists of ten members selected by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. These men and women come from across the country and are experts in a wide range of motorcycle-infrastructure topics. Each is a motorcyclist and, combined, the MAC members have over two centuries of riding experience. The meetings are open to the public and, for the first meeting, additional attendees were present including representatives from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the Motorcycle Industry Council, Dynamic Research, Harley Davidson, Squire Patton Boggs and the Motorcycle Riders Foundation.
During this busy holiday travel season, there are various resources on the FAA’s and DOT’s websites that will help make your flight safer, smoother, and more enjoyable.
Know Before You Go.
Before going to the airport, always check your airport status and delays. The FAA’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center offers real-time flight delay information at many of the largest airports.
To answer that question, the FAA has advice that will help you pack your bags with safety in mind.
Passengers may not realize that a number of everyday toiletry and electronic items they may pack in their baggage may be considered hazardous material when they’re carried on a plane. E-cigarettes (vaping devices), spare batteries for your electronics, nail polish, hair spray, and other common items are hazardous.
The FAA recommends that passengers carry their portable electronic devices in their carry-on bags whenever possible, instead of in checked luggage. The FAA forbids spare lithium batteries and e-cigarettes in your carry-on luggage. They are always forbidden in checked baggage.
The U.S. DOT’s Volpe Center will welcome Joseph F. Coughlin, PhD, founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Age Lab, on December 13 at noon ET as part of its speaker series The Ongoing Transformation of the Global Transportation System.
The Ongoing Transformation of the Global Transportation System continues the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s long history of convening thought leaders, decision makers, and stakeholders from across the global transportation enterprise to anticipate future transportation issues, generate fresh approaches to emerging issues, anticipate transportation trends, and inform decision making.
As the private sector drives innovation across all modes, there is potential for dramatic impacts on the safety and efficiency of the future transportation system and the composition of the nation’s transportation workforce.
Register now to join Joseph F. Coughlin of the MIT AgeLab on December 13, by webinar or in person, at the U.S. DOT’s Volpe Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
One of my more memorable experiences since becoming FTA acting administrator a few months ago was taking the wheel of a virtual bus as part of a state-of-the-art simulation exercise at the New Flyer Vehicle Innovation Center (VIC) in Anniston, Alabama.
During the October grand opening ceremony of the VIC, a manufacturing lab and training facility for new-technology buses, I drove a simulation bus used for operator training. It opened my eyes to the challenges bus operators face every day, even though my track was mostly obstacle free. Moreover, I took a front seat to the high-tech future of driver training, which should go a long way toward improving safety.
Technology was on display throughout the VIC on the opening day. New Flyer of America, the largest transit vehicle manufacturer in North America, has more than 50 years of experience in manufacturing next-generation buses. The company opened the center, which includes a manufacturing lab, exhibit space, and training areas, to continue to advance bus technology through sustainable research and development.
For several years, New Flyer has produced buses using zero-emission technology, and many of those vehicles populate fleets that have received FTA Low or No-Emission Grants. The program provides funding to state and local governmental authorities to purchase or lease low-emission buses as well as charging facilities and other supportive technology.
New-technology buses are gaining in popularity as agencies realize cost-savings thanks to reduced fuel and lessened maintenance because vehicles run on fewer parts. The changes equate to thousands of dollars over the life of each vehicle. Moreover, they run quietly and emit minimal particulates or carbon monoxide, key components of smog. Passengers report that they enjoy the quieter, odorless travel.
With Thanksgiving only a week away, Americans are in the midst of one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. As millions of passengers take to the skies, DOT is here to help make their trips as smooth as possible. Today, DOT rolled out the first phase of an effort to redesign its airline consumer website to better help air travelers understand their rights. The improved design and streamlined pages will help consumers access needed information before, during, and after their flights now that the busy holiday travel season has kicked off.
DOT believes that an essential part of protecting air travelers is ensuring that they know what their rights are. The pages launched today are just the first step in the Department’s plan to redesign and simplify the aviation consumer information available on its website.
Celebrating the 50th Annual Secretary’s Awards Ceremony
Secretary Elaine L. Chao kicked off the 50th Secretary’s Awards Ceremony to a thunderous ovation. Recipient’s from all Agencies, Offices and as far away as Juneau, Alaska, were gathered in the West Atrium of DOT headquarters to receive awards on excellence and merit. The Secretary took the opportunity to give a special thanks to the more than 300 DOT employees who have volunteered for special assignments to assist with recovery efforts after the recent series of devastating hurricanes.
The list of milestones is impressive:
- Processing over 300 authorizations for drones to assist with surveying damage,
- Issuing waivers in record time to allow more truck drivers to transport fuel to hospitals and gas stations,
- Dispatching MARAD ships and personnel to provide power, food, clean water, and berthing for first responders and emergency workers and more.
Every DOT mode has stepped up to help. As many of you know, Secretary Chao traveled with Vice President Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence to the devastated areas. The spirit of the volunteers and recovery workers was inspirational. It will take time and sustained effort to get these areas back to normal. Repairing damaged infrastructure will be a key factor in the recovery and the Department has an important role to play in helping these regions get back on their feet.
Fall Back, then Check for Vehicle Recalls
Don’t forget to fall back this Sunday, November 5 at 2 a.m., as Daylight Saving Time ends. This is a wonderful time of year to check off a few other housekeeping details, including checking your smoke detector batteries and taking a moment to check for vehicle safety recalls. Adding this to your spring and fall safety routines keeps you and your family safe all year long. You can also take the opportunity to check for safety recalls for child car seats and tires. To see a list of open recalls, visit NHTSA.gov/Recalls.
Why Do I Need to Check for Recalls?
Vehicle recalls in the United States hit an all-time high in 2016 for the third year in a row. Automakers initiated 927 separate recalls affecting a record 53.2 million vehicles--the highest number of auto recalls in one year.
Even with these numbers, only about 75 percent of vehicles recalled in a given year are ever fixed. Being part of that other 25 percent puts you, your passengers, and others on the road at risk. Read more about 2016 recalls in the Recall Annual Report.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and many people throughout the FHWA and across the nation wore pink on Friday to raise awareness and to remember those affected.
Earlier this month, the American Cancer Society reported that breast cancer death rates fell almost 40 percent over the last 25 years. Researchers attribute this to screening and early detection by self-exams, mammography and improvements in treatments over the recent decades. In the weeks ahead, particularly during the Federal Benefits Open Season, I encourage you to consider what the various health plans offer – specifically regarding cancer detection, screening and preventive care.