In his weekly radio address on Saturday, President Obama said that promoting innovation "is going to be key to growing our economy and helping businesses create jobs."
I know one Department that has been pursuing innovation for years and shows no signs of stopping.
Last week on this blog, you may have read about Proterra's new fast-charging electric buses brought into production through Federal Transit Administration support and about Ford's safety demonstration of Vehicle-To-Vehicle Communication supported by the Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
But we've got plenty more innovation in the works. Whether it's the Every Day Counts or Highways For LIFE initiatives of our Federal Highway Administration, the Bus Testing Program in the FTA, or the Wireless Roadside Inspection program of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Department of Transportation is fully committed to promoting innovation.
And even as these programs advance our top priority--safety--they also help businesses across the country stay productive and bring new technologies to market.
Accelerating new approaches to road-building keeps all of us safer and helps businesses lower their expenses. And that's exactly what FHWA's Every Day Counts initiative seeks to do. For example, we've learned that bringing the general contractor to the table during the planning stages of a project significantly speeds up project completion. Introducing new technologies--like prefabricated bridge components or warm-mix asphalt--is another way to move projects toward faster completion. This gets Americans the safer roads we need and saves money throughout the life-cycle of a highway project.
FTA’s New Model Bus Testing Program tests transit buses for safety, structural durability, performance, maintainability, noise, and fuel economy. By testing new bus models before they are purchased, transit agencies and manufacturers can often address problems before the fleet is built, saving considerable money and time. This program also tests reconfigured buses, encouraging manufacturers to introduce innovations into their product lines--for example, by converting a conventionally-fueled bus into a bus fueled by natural gas. The Bus Testing Program ensures the safety and reliability of these enhancements.
The FMCSA's Wireless Roadside Inspection technology saves truck drivers time while increasing the effectiveness of motor vehicle inspections. The WRI technology can improve motor carrier productivity by reducing inspection stops for consistently safe and legal drivers and vehicles, targeting enforcement to focus on unsafe or illegal operators, and improving safety performance measures. This increases enforcement efficiency while keeping good drivers on the road.
Now these are just a handful of the ways DOT is promoting innovation for safety and productivity. "And that," said the President last week, "is how we win the future--by unleashing the talent and ingenuity of American businesses and American workers in every corner of this country."