Over the past decade, highway fatalities have declined by nearly 25 percent, with the latest data showing a drop of 3.1 percent in 2013 from the previous year. While that is a remarkable success story, we have much more work to do. So my intention as NHTSA Administrator is to build on this record by strengthening what works and fixing what doesn’t.
And one thing that doesn't work is when industry fails to live up to its safety responsibilities by not disclosing critical safety information as required by law.
That’s why yesterday we announced two distinct $35 million civil penalties, totaling $70 million, assessed to Honda for failing to report deaths and injuries and failing to report certain warranty claims...
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take part in a groundbreaking for the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge between Kittery, Maine, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It’s DOT's first project to break ground in 2015 and also the first of any project using funds from the latest round of USDOT Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants announced just last September.
Beginning immediately, workers will begin replacing the 65-year-old bridge, which carries an estimated 14,000 drivers each day over the Piscataqua River. The new span will also provide rail access to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, carry crucial commercial traffic along the U.S. Route 1 Bypass, and serve as the primary emergency alternate bridge for the I-95 High Level Bridge between the two states. It also connects the Maine and New Hampshire DOTs that are partnering in a joint venture to replace the crossing.
But the bridge will connect even more than the two banks of a river; it will connect centuries...
Earlier today, I had the opportunity to welcome students returning to Somerville High School in Massachusetts after their winter break. Actually, I was there to announce a Federal Transit Administration agreement to help fund the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line Extension from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford. But it was entirely fitting to make the announcement at a local high school.
I’m the grandson of teachers who, like so many teachers, went above and beyond their job descriptions because they understood that they were paving the way for a new generation to go further. That's what education is about. And it's also what transportation is about...
Earlier this week, I was in Dearborn, Michigan, to celebrate completion of the John D. Dingell Transit Center. This multimodal transit center, funded by a Recovery Act grant of $28.2 million, is a great example of how a collaborative approach to station development can meet the needs of everyone involved. The new station in Dearborn is a win for the disability community, freight shippers, and passenger rail.
One of the center’s most significant achievements is its accessibility. The platforms at the new station have been designed to provide level boarding to all rail passengers directly from the platform to the new fleet of passenger rail cars that will operate throughout the Midwest network. By coordinating respectfully with each other, project partners were able to engineer a solution that ensured the rights of the disability community and ensured the flow of freight traffic was not impinged...
In Maine last week, within a day of each other, two events occurred that add up to one compelling argument for investing in America's transportation system.
One was resoundingly positive --the opening of the new Maine Kennebec Bridge-- and I was happy to observe that celebration firsthand on Friday. The other event --Thursday's collapse of a section of the Eastport Pier-- caused at least one injury and damage to several vessels and a truck.
The pier's collapse and the ongoing demand for the limited funding available to rebuild roads and bridges in Maine and across America are a clear demonstration of how we've starved our nation's transportation infrastructure for far too long...
New and old Kennebec River crossings; photo courtesy Kennebec Journal
As readers of the Fast Lane know, transportation is about a lot more than just how we get from one point to another. Transportation is, what President Obama likes to call, a ladder of opportunity. It helps people reach better jobs and better schools, which means they can reach for –and seize– a better life.
That's especially true on Tribal Lands.
DOT is committed to working with tribal communities to build the roads, bridges, and transit systems they need. And we've got a number of programs that are doing just that...
In August, after continued pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, child safety seat manufacturer Graco recalled over 6 million car seats.
The defect involves buckles of child and infant car seats sticking or becoming stuck in the latched position, creating an unreasonable risk to a child’s life in the event of an emergency. But while the recall is good news for child safety, it's not as good as you might think; NHTSA estimates that only about 40 percent of recalled car seats are ever actually repaired. That's not nearly the rate of repairs for recalled light vehicles (75 percent), and it presents a significant safety challenge.
But NHTSA's work doesn't end when a recall is announced. Yesterday, the safety agency announced an investigation into the timeliness of Graco's reporting on the safety defect that led to the August recall...
Many of you might have watched last night's 60 Minutes segment, "Falling Apart: America's Neglected Infrastructure." I was glad to see CBS give this critical situation its due in primetime.
As Fast Lane readers know, this is an issue I’ve been talking about almost every day since taking office. I’ve been to 41 states, sounding the alarm that our infrastructure is crumbling and that we need Congress to step up and help us rebuild it. I’ve also put forward a plan –the GROW AMERICA Act– that would give Congress a roadmap to do exactly that...and help us maintain our transportation system for generations to come.
Unfortunately, Congress doesn't seem to share our sense of urgency, which prompted my predecessor, Secretary Ray LaHood, to suggest on 60 Minutes last night that Congress needs to have the political courage to solve this problem.
Yesterday, I welcomed the chance to talk to AASHTO members about a very pressing issue we have in common: the condition of America's infrastructure and its ability to meet this nation's needs.
In Washington, the conventional wisdom is that Congress won't pass a long-term transportation bill. When funding starts to run out in May, they'll just do what they’ve done 28 times before in the last six years: They’ll pass another short-term patch that is probably also short of the funds our transportation system needs.
It’s not that Congress can't pass a long-term bill. It’s that they think they don’t have to. They think that as long as they approve level funding in a short-term patch, states and communities will be happy.
Yesterday, I told AASHTO that they need to tell Congress otherwise...
For five and half years, one of the best parts of my job has been meeting with mayors and people at the local level working hard to get things done. To leaders like the National League of Cities members I met with this week, transportation comes down to improving quality of life.
I used to be a mayor myself. I served in Riverdale, Illinois, the first outer-ring suburb on the southern edge of Chicago.
Riverdale is a railroad town. It has two major rail yards, five railroads that run through it, and two commuter rail stations. So I understand how community leaders are eager to have safe, reliable, efficient rail connections but also the necessary tools to address challenges like blocked crossings or train horn noise. Above all, they want to know that their communities are safe –and so do we...