When people ask me about my priorities as Transportation Secretary, I always say that safety must come first at DOT.
But we must do more than ensure safety and maintain our current infrastructure. With the U.S. population expected to grow by 100 million in the next 30 years, we must also make sure our transportation system is prepared to meet that growing demand. It will be a big challenge, but it also represents a powerful opportunity.
On Monday, November 11, Americans across the country will honor our veterans and their families for their tireless work and the sacrifices that have kept our nation safe. And DOT is proud to thank these great heroes for their service by making the transition to civilian careers in transportation easier.
Our veterans have the skills and experience to help rebuild America, so we want to put them to work in the skies, on the roads, and throughout our transit and rail systems.
The experience of these U.S. Navy air traffic controllers should translate into the civilian workplace.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting CSX's Northwest Ohio Terminal with Vice President Joe Biden. It's not our first trip to a key freight hub together. Last month, the Vice President and I visited the Ports of Baltimore, Charleston, and Savannah.
Why freight hubs? Because this Administration knows that moving freight is the lifeblood of our economy.
Our nation is undergoing a significant demographic shift. By 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older will more than double, while those 85 and older could increase fivefold. This population can face challenges that include increased poverty, isolation, and difficulty accessing medical care.
DOT has long been committed to helping older Americans continue to live with dignity in urban and rural communities alike by making a special effort to meet the transportation and mobility needs of America’s seniors.
Just a few days ago, I finished a ride-along with Leo Wilkins, an owner operator I met at the OOIDA Safety Awards presentation in Kansas City. Leo has logged 21 years of accident-free driving, and from Sunday morning until Monday afternoon, I rode with him from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, to St. Louis--with stops along the way in Harrisburg, Indianapolis, and Riverton, Illinois.
My goal was to experience what drivers experience when they are on the road and see how the programs we put in place at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration really mean to an owner operator.
FMCSA Administrator (right) joined Leo Wilkins in his 2012 Peterbilt 379 from Marlboro, MD, to St. Louis. Photo courtesy OOIDA.
For the second straight season, NASCAR driver David Ragan's #34 car carried safety messaging from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Air travelers, their loved ones, airlines, pilots, and the men and women here at the Federal Aviation Administration have at least one thing in common: we all want air travel to be as safe as possible. And when it comes to the cockpit, we expect our pilots to have extensive training and the skills and confidence to appropriately handle any situation.
That's why, today, we're introducing a final rule on commercial air carrier pilot training. This new rule requires our pilots to have the most advanced training available to handle emergencies they may encounter. Like earlier rules on pilot fatigue and pilot qualifications, today's rule is in part a response to the tragic, February 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407.
Most of you are familiar with the high cost of congestion and its impact on our nation’s roadways, our economic competitiveness, the environment, and the time commuters needlessly lose stuck in traffic each year. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, the total financial cost of congestion in 2011 was $121 billion. Of that total, about $27 billion worth was wasted time and diesel fuel from trucks moving goods on the system.
So what to do?
I’ll tell you what Northern California has done. Just recently, I joined Congressman Jerry McNerney and other state and local officials at the Port of Stockton for the dedication of M-580, an important Marine Highway project known as the “California Green Trade Corridor.”
At DOT, we believe that all airline passengers deserve to be treated fairly when they fly. And we’ve been hard at work introducing consumer protections to ensure equal access to hassle-free transportation for all air travelers.
Today as part of that ongoing effort, we announced a new rule requiring airline websites and automated airport kiosks to be accessible to passengers with disabilities.
In addition to raking leaves, one thing many of us can also look forward to this weekend is setting our clocks back one hour. And in addition to checking the batteries on your smoke detectors, the end of Daylight Saving Time should also mean a change in your safe driving habits.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds us that the seasonal combination of increasingly less sunlight and a return to Standard Time means that darkness falls at least an hour earlier.