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Yes, Virginia, you and the rest of the world's boys and girls can rest easy; thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration and NextGen, there will be a transglobal Santa flight this year!

We can confirm reports that FAA safety inspectors in the North Pole have been working closely with us elves on-site and have cleared the Santa One sleigh to deliver toys to boys and girls throughout the world who’ve been good for goodness sake...

Santa reviews flight plan with elves

 

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America is leading the global effort to end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. And part of the Obama Administration's whole-of-government response has included some recent heavy lifting by two ships from the Maritime Administration's (MARAD) Ready Reserve Force, the M/V Cape Rise and the M/V Cape Wrath.

Today, we're happy to report that the volunteer civilian mariners crewing the Cape Rise and Cape Wrath are home for the holidays...

Photo of Cape Wrath crew
Crew of Cape Wrath before departing on Ebola aid mission; courtesy of Maritime Executive.
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Not all of the goals we work toward at DOT allow for straightforward measurement, but with our number one priority--safety--the statistics tell a pretty clear story. And on Friday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the 2013 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data showing a 3.1 percent decrease in the number of road deaths from the previous year and a nearly 25 percent decline since 2004. The estimated number of people injured in crashes also declined by 2.1 percent from 2012.

The 2013 FARS data also tell us that America's highway fatality rate -1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled-- is at its lowest point ever. Ever.

That improvement in safety doesn't just happen on its own. It's the result of the men and women of NHTSA and our many safety partners educating drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. It's the result of better-engineered roadways. And it's the result of vigilant enforcement by police departments and state highway patrol officers...

Photo of young woman driver putting on seat belt

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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...

Photo of F.R.A. Administrator Joe Szabo at Dearborn Station

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This holiday season, almost 99 million people will be hitting the roads (and rails and seas and skies). And at DOT, it’s our job to help keep them safe.

We thought about writing a white paper to tell you how we do this… but then we said, “Nah. Let’s do it with GIFs.”

So today, if you navigate over to BuzzFeed, you'll find a list of 10 ways DOT is making holiday travel safer and easier.

Animated GIF riffing on Rudolph's red nose and drunk driving enforcement efforts

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A dream of controlled flight brought bicycle-mechanics Wilbur and Orville Wright from Dayton, Ohio, to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. On December 17, 1903, after years of experimentation, they achieved the first successful airplane flight. It lasted for about 12 seconds, went about 120 feet, and changed everything.

Today, on what President Obama has declared Wright Brothers Day, we celebrate those 12 seconds of flight that propelled human aviation forward for the next 111 years.

We also celebrate the research, engineering, and perseverance that made that moment possible. Those same factors have led to continued advances in aviation, changing the way we travel and bringing about a truly global economy...

Photo of early Wright Brothers flight

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Today, we kicked off the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) holiday campaign against drunk driving. The message is simple, and it presents a clear choice: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

This time last year, we launched a similar drunk driving enforcement crackdown. And I said our goal was to make sure that tragedy visited fewer families in the 2013 holiday season --that more drunk drivers would stay off the road, that fewer lives would be lost, and that we’d have fewer lights on our memorial tree.

Well, today I can report: that’s exactly what happened...

Photo of Secretary Foxx at drunk driving campaign launch

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2015 is just around the corner, and that means New Year resolutions. Many of us will resolve to get to the gym more or go on a diet to get a little healthier. At DOT, our resolution isn’t necessarily to put ourselves on a diet –but to put some of our roads on one. A road diet, after all, is one that can do more than improve your life; it can save it.

A typical road diet takes a segment of four-lane undivided roadway and reconfigures it into three lanes with two through lanes and a center two-way left turn lane. Often, a road diet creates space for bicycle lanes. The newly configured stretch improves safety by including a protected left-turn lane for motorists, reducing crossing distance for pedestrians, and lowering travel speeds with very little increase in travel times.

To help cities and towns deliver this safety innovation to their residents, the Federal Highway Administration recently published a Road Diet Informational Guide that walks communities through the decision-making process to determine whether a road diet is a good fit...

Photo of Lawyers Road before and after a road diet

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Yesterday, I attended a “Global Road Safety Summit” hosted by Safe Kids Worldwide. The crowd was full of policymakers and safety experts, but many of us were not thinking about the titles on our business cards. We were thinking about our more important title –parent.

One particular parent attending the summit was Zoleka Mandela, grand-daughter of the late Nelson Mandela. In June 2010, her 13-year-old daughter Zenani died in a crash on the way back from a concert that opened the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Since then, she has become a strong advocate, calling on the global community to help developing countries reduce road deaths. And we thank her for turning her grief into action.

Now, there’s no one way to combat these crashes; each country is different. But there are some things that the US –and DOT in particular– are doing to prevent these tragedies.

For example, we know that safety requires more than just educating children to be careful when they’re walking and biking along the road. Infrastructure has a role to play, too. After all, there are still too many roads with no safe way to bike or walk...

Photo of Secretary Foxx with Zoleka Mandela
Secretary Foxx with Zoleka Mandela; photo courtesy Safe Kids Worldwide.
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Yesterday, we wrote here in the Fast Lane about Florida's Billy Hattaway's nod as one of Governing Magazine's 2014 Public Officials of the Year. Today, congratulations are in order for two of DOT's own, policy analyst Avital Barnea and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Both DOTers were honored by WTS International's Washington, DC, chapter earlier this week.

For her service as the chapter's Vice President and her outreach to prospective members, Barnea was selected as the chapter's 2014 Member of the Year. As the chapter's Recognition Chair, Iris Ortiz, said, "Avital never hesitates to step in and volunteer when there is work to be done. From bringing in new members to ensuring that she is intimately familiar with every committee’s duties and responsibilities, Avital has played a major role in getting the chapter up to speed and keeping it running effectively."

For his efforts connecting communities to economic opportunities through transportation Ladders of Opportunity, Secretary Foxx was selected for the chapter's 2014 Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award...

a hands-on, interactive, mentoring program that offers young girls ages 13-18 an introduction to a wide variety of transportation careers. - See more at: http://www.transportationyou.org/#sthash.ywq5bB5p.dpuf
a hands-on, interactive, mentoring program that offers young girls ages 13-18 an introduction to a wide variety of transportation careers. - See more at: http://www.transportationyou.org/#sthash.ywq5bB5p.dpuf

Photo of attendees at WTS-DC 2014 awards

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