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Happy July 4th!  Hope you, your families, friends and loved ones have a safe and happy Independence Day!  

44 million Americans traveling 50 miles or more for celebratory activities make this among the most traveled July 4th weekends ever!  The U. S. Department of Transportation has the important responsibility of helping to keep the traveling public safe in every mode of transportation.  We thank the professionals working in the Department for their dedication and hard work. 

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If you plan to fly or drive to visit family and friends to celebrate Independence Day, please help us keep you and your fellow travelers safe:  leave the fireworks at home. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) want you to arrive at your destination safely.

Fireworks are fun and part of many of our July 4th weekends, but even the smallest firework novelty items such as sparklers, bang snaps, and black snakes are considered explosives and pose a safety risk to airplanes.

Whether in your pockets, carry-ons, or checked baggage, there’s a risk that friction can cause fireworks to ignite during flight, putting you, your fellow passengers, and the crew members at high risk of fire. Because of this, passengers are prohibited from boarding airplanes with fireworks and firework novelty items.

Continue Reading Know the Safety Guidelines ››
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As our communities become more connected, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) play an important central role in our cities, towns, suburbs, and rural communities, between regions and across state lines. Transportation system managers can best serve vital needs by applying cohesive ITS technology and effectively “connecting the dots” of information from various factors that affect transportation operations, such as  weather, congestion, accidents, and unanticipated emergencies.

A flagship effort of the USDOT ITS program is the Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program, funding large-scale Connected Vehicle system implementation efforts led by the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT); the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA); and the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT). Similar, interoperable technologies are being used differently at three pilot sites to improve safety in environments as diverse as dense urban grid networks and isolated high-plains interstates.

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If you’re traveling by air this summer, or any time of year, DOT wants you to be aware of the airline passenger protections in place that will ensure that you are treated fairly.

DOT has launched an airline passenger microsite to make it easy for travelers to understand their rights.  The site includes information on tarmac delays, ticketing, fees, bumping, and more.  And if you have an issue before, during, or after your flight, you can file a complaint with the Department here.

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The Paris Air Show has attracted aviation enthusiasts from around the world since it began in 1909. This year, Secretary Chao and I were lucky enough to be among them.

As the eyes of the aviation world once again turned to Le Bourget, countless manufacturers were on hand to unveil their latest and greatest aircraft. It was fantastic to see so many American companies represented, with Boeing and Lockheed Martin making headlines for their most recent innovative jet designs.

But the Paris Air Show isn’t just about innovative technologies. It’s also a unique opportunity for international aviation leaders to come together and discuss the 21st Century challenges we face.

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States that operate rail transit systems have less than two years to certify their state safety oversight (SSO) Program or risk the withholding of millions of dollars in Federal funding. Federal public transportation law requires that each state obtain SSO Program certification from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) by April 15, 2019. If a state fails to obtain certification for its SSO Program by the deadline, FTA is prohibited by transportation law from obligating any funds to all public transportation agencies throughout that state until certification is achieved.

With the certification deadline now less than two years away, the FTA urges states to act quickly to enact any necessary legislation, statutes and regulations, particularly those states whose legislatures meet only part-time or biennially. The 30 states affected by this requirement need to act now. By law, the deadline cannot be waived or extended.

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President Dwight Eisenhower is widely known as the “Father of the Interstate System,” due in part to his experiences with highways in World War II and his years’ of work with Congress to fund a national highway system. With Father’s Day around the corner, it is an important legacy to remember. 

In 1919, just after the end of World War I, young Lt. Col. Eisenhower led the U.S. Army’s Cross-Country Motor Transport Train – a mission to send a convoy of six dozen trucks and other military vehicles across the country. The convoy would take the most famous road of the day – the Lincoln Highway – which ran between New York City and San Francisco, Calif. The Army needed to know if motor vehicles, which had been used in combat on since 1916, could stand the trip. The convoy also included a speaker who would talk about the importance of good roads at each stop.

Infographic with picture of President Eisenhower

Continue Reading Father’s Day and the Father ››
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Rev your engines—June 19 is National Ride to Work Day. The national motorcycle safety initiative is an opportunity to raise awareness about motorcyclist safety, and to remind other motorists to share the road.

In 2015, there were 4,976 motorcyclists (4,684 riders and 292 passengers) killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes—an increase of more than 8 percent from the 4,586 motorcyclists killed in 2014. From 2013 to 2014, there was actually a decrease (2%) of motorcyclists killed. However, 88,000 motorcyclists were injured during 2015, a 3-percent decrease from the 92,000 motorcyclists injured in 2014. Even though motorcycles only account for about 3 percent of registered vehicles on the road, motorcyclists are dramatically overrepresented in fatal crashes—especially those involving alcohol.

Safe riding practices and cooperation from all road users will help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways. But it’s especially important for motorists to understand the safety challenges faced by motorcyclists, who are more vulnerable due to size and visibility, as well as their riding practices, such as downshifting and weaving.

Continue Reading Ride to Work on June 19 ››
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According to new data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), drivers are spending more time stuck in rush-hour traffic than ever.  Increased congestion is outpacing system improvements gained from investments in gridlock reduction strategies, such as road widenings, better intermodal connections and traffic and demand management technologies.

Based on data from America’s 52 most populous metropolitan areas, FHWA’s “2016 Urban Congestion Trends” shows that the average congestion worsened, with drivers spending an additional three minutes stuck in traffic compared to 2015—with some areas improving and others deteriorating.  

Congested Atlanta Urban Highway

Congestion got worse during peak hours in 2016, as represented by the Travel Time Index which compares peak hour or commuter travel times to free flow travel times. The index increased slightly to 1.35 in 2016 from 1.34 in 2015, meaning that a trip taking 10 minutes in free-flow traffic would now take 13.5 minutes during peak hours. 

Continue Reading America’s Drivers Continue ››
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Friday was a historic day for our Department as we hosted the President to close out Infrastructure Week. He visited the Department to highlight the importance of rebuilding and modernizing our nation's infrastructure, and to underscore the key role this Department plays in providing safe, efficient and modern infrastructure for our country.

I want to thank our colleagues who helped and participated in this event.  Putting it together took teamwork and all the hard work could be seen in the packed house and great welcome for the President and his message of infrastructure renewal.  

So thank you again, and I look forward to continuing to work with you on our important mission.

Continue Reading A Message from the Secretary ››
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