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Last Friday, I had the opportunity to visit the Oklahoma DOT's I-235/I-44 Interchange Reconstruction project. Thanks to my hosts U.S. Senator James Inhofe, Governor Mary Fallin, and Oklahoma Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley, I learned a lot about the cutting-edge work that’s changing how the state delivers roads, bridges, and other projects.  And it's clear that Oklahoma is a hotbed of highway high-tech.

At the I-235/I-44 interchange project, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) is using two innovative technologies from the Federal Highway Administration's Every Day Counts toolkit.

Photo of Secretary Foxx on site at Oklahoma City interchange reconstruction project
Photo courtesy The Edmond Sun, James Coburn

Asphalt Safety EdgeSM is installed during paving or resurfacing projects and allows drivers who drift off highways to return to the pavement safely.  Warm-Mix Asphalt (WMA) is a building material used to create more durable pavement at less cost and with fewer emissions. Oklahoma's use of WMA isn’t just a fad. From 2009 through September 2012, Oklahoma placed 329,100 tons of it, and 65 of the state’s 73 asphalt plants have been modified to take advantage of the technology.

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At the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, we are proud of our long history of supporting Emergency Medical Services across the country.

Since the early 1970s, NHTSA has published education standards for EMTs and paramedics. The Freedom House Ambulance Service, recently honored with a NHTSA's Public Service Award, has a special connection to that history.

The young men and women of this service--trained by Dr. Peter Safar, the father of CPR--were some of the nation’s first advanced life support paramedics. More importantly, they provided emergency medical care to an underserved part of Pittsburgh.

Photo of Freedom House Ambulance crew working with a doctor

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As schools gear up to teach students reading, writing, and arithmetic, transit agencies across the country are preparing to educate Americans about another vital subject: rail safety.

In partnership with Operation Lifesaver, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded eight transit agencies almost $194,000 for programs to educate the public about how to be safe on and around the rails.

Graphic warning that transit safety is a shared responsibility

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The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington is quite a moment. A moment to reflect on what it took for those men and women to come together. A moment to think of where we are today.

Today, we honor so many who achieved so much, demanding fairness and equality in the face of hardship, discrimination, and violence. 

As Secretary of Transportation, I can’t help but think of the historic connection between transportation and the civil rights movement. Literally or figuratively, transportation has played a role throughout the history of our nation’s progress toward civil rights. And it still does.

Photo of Rosa Parks seated on a bus

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Strike Force inspections protect passengers and the motoring public from coast to coast

Federal, state and local commercial vehicle inspectors across the country have begun an intensified safety crack-down to protect bus passengers and the motoring public by removing unsafe vehicles and drivers from our nation’s highways and roads. Over the course of the next two weeks--in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories--specially trained investigators will inspect motorcoaches, buses, and 9-to-15-passenger vans for overall vehicle maintenance and safety equipment condition.

Inspectors will also verify commercial driver qualifications and driver compliance with federal hours-of-service requirements. Vehicles and drivers found to be violating critical safety regulations—and thereby needlessly endangering passengers and other motorists sharing the road with them--will be put out-of-service on the spot.

Photo of investigator inspecting motorcoach wheels

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has been working on our strategic plan for FY 2014 to FY 2018 since early this spring.  Developing and implementing our strategic plan is an important step in helping the Department address key priorities that represent the diverse interests of our stakeholders across the country.

So we want to ensure that all of our stakeholders have an opportunity to read the plan and weigh in. And that means you. For the next few weeks, you can review the plan and submit your ideas and comments at the DOT Strategic Plan Online Dialogue.

Screen capture of the DOT Strategic Plan Online Dialogue website

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In 2011, people drove more than 84.7 billion miles on California interstate highways. That's more than 900 times the distance from Earth to the Sun, and it makes the Golden State's highways the nation's busiest. Overall, our nation's interstate highways saw vehicles traveling 2.95 trillion miles in 2011. That's nearly double the number of highway miles traveled in 1980.

You can find these data and more in the Federal Highway Administration's “U.S. Interstate Traffic Volume Analysis.” In addition to State totals, the report released last week also shows vehicle miles traveled on individual highways. America's busiest interstate? Not surprisingly, it's California's I-5, which saw drivers rack up 21.4 billion miles in 2011. In fact, the nation's next two busiest highway segments are also in California--the I-10 and I-110--and the Los Angeles section of I-405 leads the way among city highways.

Blue-washed photo of a busy California highway

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Nearly 10,000 people are dying each year.

That’s 27 people a day.

One person every 53 minutes.

What’s killing so many Americans?  It’s a choice. A choice made by someone who drank too much and got behind the wheel. 

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In Texas, they built it faster

We’ve all been there before: on our way to the airport for a business trip or a vacation or to drop off a loved one, and as we get closer, the traffic gets worse, and our anxiety rises as the clock continues to tick towards take-off time.  Well today, I was proud to be in Dallas to celebrate the opening of the DFW Connector, a major transportation project that will ease congestion for residents and visitors in and around Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. 

The Connector is a prime example of a transportation project that creates jobs and has a positive impact on the quality of life for people.  It’s why we provided $260 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for this effort, making it our largest ARRA highway investment.

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Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) National Roadway Safety Culture Summit here in Washington, D.C. 

The session focused on the need to develop national safety culture, an environment that encourages people to make decisions that make our roadways safer.  This safety culture will help us combat one of the most challenging public health issues our nation faces today: the high number of traffic crashes and resulting roadway injuries and deaths.

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