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Transportation Department, United States

Transportation Department, United States

A vital part of America's critical infrastructure, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) was established by an act of Congress in 1966 and began operation on April 1, 1967. Today the DOT comprises a number of bureaus and offices designed to promote efficiency and safety in air, road, rail, and marine travel and transport throughout the nation. The mission of DOT is to develop and coordinate policies to provide efficient, economical national transport systems whose operations take into account economic, environmental, and national security needs.

Agencies of DOT. In addition to the Office of the Secretary, DOT consists of 11 individual operating agencies. Among these are the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees the safety of civil air transport. DOT was also home to the Transportation Security Administration, created in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks to provide aviation security, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Both were transferred to the newly created Department of Homeland Security in March 2003. Sea borne components of DOT include the Maritime Administration, which promotes the development and maintenance of the U.S. merchant marine, and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, which maintains the waterway between the Great Lakes and Atlantic Ocean.

Areas of DOT devoted to highways and railroads include the Federal Highway Administration, which coordinates inter- and intrastate highway programs and manages roads on federal lands such as national forests and Indian reservations; the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, established in 2000 to reduce commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries; the Federal Railroad Administration, which promotes safe and environmentally sound rail transport; the Federal Transit Administration, which assists cities and communities in developing and improving mass transit systems; and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is responsible for reducing deaths and economic losses from motor vehicle crashes.

Other agencies of DOT are the Research and Special Programs Administration, which oversees the transport of hazardous materials; the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which collects data on transport and travel, and works closely with the Bureau of the Census in the Commerce Department; and the Surface Transportation Board, which is responsible for economic regulation of interstate surface transportation, primarily railroads. The last of these is an independent body organizationally housed within DOT.



National Transportation Strategic Research Plan. Washington, D.C.: National Science and Technology Council, 2000.

U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Development Plan. Washington, D.C.: John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, 1999.

Whitnah, Donald Robert. U.S. Department of Transportation: A Reference History. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.


U.S. Department of Transportation. <> (April 3, 2003).


Air Marshals, United States
Aviation Security Screeners, United States
Civil Aviation Security, United States
Coast Guard (USCG), United States
Critical Infrastructure
FAA (United States Federal Aviation Administration)
Homeland Security, United States Department
NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board)
Port Security

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