Happy 50th Birthday DOT!
Birthdays are important milestones and should be celebrated. One important one for parents is a baby’s first birthday. This is often followed by apprehension when a child reaches their teenage years. Many people in the United States enjoy turning 21 because that means alcohol is legal for us to consume. After that there are the “round” birthdays – those dreaded ones that have a zero after them. You know, turning 30, 40, 50, etc. We also celebrate the birth of nations. In the US it is every July 4th. For Canada the celebration is on July 1st. Many religions celebrate birthdays too. Christmas in the Christian faith is the birth of Jesus. Buddhists celebrate Buddha’s birthday on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar. Companies also follow this same practice. In fact, ICC Compliance Center just turned 30 last month.
What does all of this birthday talk have to do with the transport of hazardous materials? January 12, 1966 saw then President Lyndon B. Johnson declare in his State of the Union address his plans to create a Department of Transportation (DOT). It was on April 1, 1967 the DOT was open for business. Think about that for a moment. That means in the 1940s when the first atomic bomb was created, there were no regulations around the transport of Class 7 radioactive materials. Other materials such as explosives, ammunition, infectious diseases, compressed gases were also not regulated.
During the 50-year history, 17 people served as the Secretary of Transportation. Take a look below at a few of their accomplishments. Each name is followed by the year of appointment to the position. To read more on each secretary, check out DOT’s “Meet the Secretaries of Transportation” page at https://www.transportation.gov/50/collage.
Important Secretaries of Transportation:
- Alan S. Boyd (1967) – First national highway safety and federal motor carrier vehicle standards issued.
- Claude S. Brinegar (1973) – The first national speed limit of 55 miles per hour established to conserve fuel.
- Brock Adams (1977) – Mandate on use of airbags in automobiles.
- Elizabeth (Libby) Hanford Dole (1983) – Focused on safety including deadlines for airbag installations and seat belt usage.
- Rodney E. Slater (1997) – Held both the Federal Highway Administrator and Secretary of Transportation posts.
- Ray H. LaHood (2009) – Began a campaign on distracted driving.
- Elaine Chao (2017) – Current Secretary
Many of the secretaries listed above took part in a special video message in honor of DOT turning 50. It addresses the importance of DOT, the role of Secretary of Transportation and the importance of safety in our current transportation system. It is worth viewing (click here) if only to reinforce the reason behind why we do our jobs as transportation safety professionals.
Happy 50th Birthday DOT!