What is the Department of Transportation?
The Department of Transportation (D.O.T) is a department of the United States federal government which was established by Congress in October 1966. The DOT strives to serve the United States and its people by providing a fast, safe and efficient medium of transportation nationwide and ensuring that it is easily accessible to all the people of America. This is done with the motive of improving the quality of life for all Americans. This department, in short, is responsible for public rail line systems, air travel safety, national highways and water-based transport systems.
Major DOT Programs
Federal laws and regulations which have been developed and put into effect by the Department of Transportation, have helped strictly monitor and control the use of the railroad systems, highways, airports, and seaports. Their efforts to improve the quality of transportation all over the country is evident in the fact that they give billions of dollars, every year, in the form of a federal grant to state and local authorities. They focus highly on refining major transportation programs for various modes of transport.
For ensuring the safety of the American passengers, the DOT developed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) program. This program has a set of regulations and airline standards that the airline in the United States are expected to abide by. The FAA’s main responsibility is to control air traffic and help private, commercial (domestic and international) and military airlines by directing them across the United States.
Rail Line System
For governing the railways, the DOT developed two programs, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Surface Transportation Board (STB). While the FRA administering railways safety regulations and laws, the latter, STB, focuses on the financial aspect of the rail line system, like, railways rate and service conflict. FRA mainly focuses on research and development in order to provide safety to the rail passengers.
Road Use and Motor Vehicles
DOT designed three different programs to govern three different aspects of road transportation systems. For administering the nationwide interstate highways, they developed a program called Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). FHWA supports the local and the state government bodies in maintaining the highways, by providing funding to these government bodies. The second is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) whose main responsibility is to ensure safety standards in the automobile industry and road transportation system in order to reduce fatalities and prevent injuries that are associated with road accidents. On one hand, NHTSA educates people about the importance of child seats, pedestrians, while on the other hand, they take various consumer protection measures and initiatives and also ensure that the automobile manufacturer complies with the safety standards. The third program is Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA main deals with developing safety measures and regulations in order to improve the safety of commercial automobiles. This program was designed with an aim to minimize the number of accidents that involve huge vehicles, like trucks, and also to reduce the severity of it.
Two programs were developed to govern water-based transportation system. The first one was Maritime Administration and the purpose of this program was to ensure smooth facilitation for the use of water-based transportation, mainly for American ships and US merchant marine. Its main role was to ensure the protection of American ports, ships, water-bodies and the national security. Another program called Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) was developed to solely monitor the operations of Saint Lawrence Seaway System and ensure the continuity of its operations by making sure that this marine transportation system was productive, environment-friendly, and safe and had the latest technology. This was developed to ensure that cargo like coal, iron, steel, etc. safely make it to North American markets as well as markets worldwide.