With the holiday season in full swing, another year will soon be behind us. And when I think back on 2010, I couldn't be prouder of everything the Department of Transportation has accomplished.
Our roadways are the safest they've ever been. In September, NHTSA announced that 2009 saw the lowest highway fatality and injury rates ever recorded. And much of that success can be attributed to DOT's comprehensive safety programs. It also means Americans are getting the message that driving safely means putting away your cell phone, buckling up, and not getting behind the wheel when you've had too much to drink.
But that doesn't mean we're resting on our laurels. Through our annual "Over the Limit, Under Arrest" campaign, we are promoting a new "No Refusal" initiative that will help keep drunk drivers off our roads and save even more lives.
And our Department-wide initiative to end distracted driving has gained even more momentum in 2010. This year, we held a second national Distracted Driving Summit and proposed rules that would prohibit hand-held cell phone use by commercial drivers and ban texting behind the wheel for drivers of hazardous materials.
Turning to aviation, flying is safer and more efficient because of the work of DOT and FAA.
In 2010, we made major strides forward by modernizing air travel through NextGen, improving safety standards, and protecting consumers' rights when they fly. We also broke years of deadlock and proposed new rules that would combat pilot fatigue by making sure pilots are well-rested every time they get into the cockpit.
One of our other major priorities this year has been to continue supporting our nation's economic recovery. President Obama's historic investment in transportation has supported more than 15,000 infrastructure projects across the country. And because of the president's leadership, and the hard work of men and women at DOT, Recovery Act investments have put tens of thousands of Americans to work rebuilding our transportation systems.
These projects range from highways, bridges, and buses to ports, airports, and rail lines. It also includes $8 billion in awards to begin laying the groundwork for a national high-speed intercity passenger rail network and $1.5 billion in discretionary TIGER grants to fund innovative transportation projects across the country.
And the transportation projects we were able to fund with Recovery Act dollars have far-reaching benefits. They're jump starting new economic opportunities. They're supporting sustainable, livable communities. And they're creating jobs and supporting American families.
Of course, these advances--and so many more--would not have been possible without the dedicated men and women who work on behalf of DOT and the American people every day. And these same folks will be leading our charge into the new year.
So even though 2010 was a great year here at the Department, I know the best is still ahead of us. I look forward to making even greater strides in 2011.