USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

DOT History

Monday, March 1, 2021

DOT History and the History of the Transportation in the United States are documented in several locations:

From Then to Now: A Journey of 50 Years
Fifty years ago, in April 1967, the United States Department of Transportation had just opened its doors...

Federal Aviation Administration
The continuing mission of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.

FAA's History website traces the history of the administration. In addition to A Brief History of the Federal Aviation Administration and its Predecessor Agencies, the site provides FAA Administrator Biographies, descriptions of Aerospace Pioneers and chronologies of FAA Milestones and Events, and several collections of photographs.

Reference chronology and narrative history books about FAA are available for sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Governmen Printing Office. These works are also available in the government documents section of many of the nation's university, state, and larger public libraries.

Aviation history may be researched through the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum Archives. Researchers must make appointments for visits. Please call for an appointment as far in advance of your planned visit as possible, as space is limited and reading rooms may be temporarily closed to accommodate Museum functions. Additionally, some materials may require a few days' preparation.

Federal Highway Administration
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation that supports State and local governments in the design, construction, and maintenance of the Nation's highway system (Federal Aid Highway Program) and various federally and tribal owned lands (Federal Lands Highway Program). Through financial and technical assistance to State and local governments, the Federal Highway Administration is responsible for ensuring that America's roads and highways continue to be among the safest and most technologically sound in the world. FHWA provides stewardship over the construction, maintenance and preservation of the Nation's highways, bridges and tunnels. FHWA also conducts research and provides technical assistance to state and local agencies in an effort to improve safety, mobility, and livability, and to encourage innovation.

FHWA's Highway History includes information on the interstate system, federal aid legislation, the history of FHWA, and other general historic information. Documents available from this site cover topics such as the laws that shaped the Federal-aid highway program, travel in the 19th century, and the Bicycle Craze of the 1890s.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Formerly a part of the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. Activities of the Administration contribute to ensuring safety in motor carrier operations through strong enforcement of safety regulations; targeting high-risk carriers and commercial motor vehicle drivers; improving safety information systems and commercial motor vehicle technologies; strengthening commercial motor vehicle equipment and operating standards; and increasing safety awareness.

The FMCSA Newsroom, maintained by the Office of Communications, ncludes the most recent Agency news and historical information. Visitors may search and browse Congressional TestimonySpeeches, and News Items.

Federal Railroad Administration
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) was created by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966. It is one of ten agencies within the U.S. Department of Transportation concerned with intermodal transportation. FRA promotes safe, environmentally sound, successful railroad transportation to meet the needs of all customers today and tomorrow.

The FRA eLibrary contains all the documents that are found throughout the FRA Public Website with items dating back to 2002. Older, historical documents may have been removed from the eLibrary to avoid confusion with current publications. The collection includes Congressional Testimonies , SpeechesPress Releases, and Fact Sheets.

Federal Transit Administration
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) that provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems. Until 1991, it was known as the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA).

FTA provides a brief overview of the Administration, as well as an annotated chronology and history of mass transit in the United States.

Maritime Administration
The Maritime Administration (MARAD) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation dealing with waterborne transportation. Its programs promote the use of waterborne transportation and its seamless integration with other segments of the transportation system, and the viability of the U.S. merchant marine. The Maritime Administration works in many areas involving ships and shipping, shipbuilding, port operations, vessel operations, national security, environment, and safety. The Maritime Administration is also charged with maintaining the health of the merchant marine, since commercial mariners, vessels, and intermodal facilities are vital for supporting national security, and so the agency provides support and information for current mariners, extensive support for educating future mariners, and programs to educate America's young people about the vital role the maritime industry plays in the lives of all Americans.

The MARAD History Program is responsible for historical documentation and for the preservation and interpretation of its heritage assets to promote an understanding and appreciation of America's merchant marine and maritime past. MARAD's history, discussion of vessels of MARAD, information about the Maritime Administration Artifact Collection, and other historical documents are some of the topics covered by the program.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), under the U.S. Department of Transportation, was established by the Highway Safety Act of 1970, as the successor to the National Highway Safety Bureau, to carry out safety programs under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and the Highway Safety Act of 1966. NHTSA is responsible for reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. This is accomplished by setting and enforcing safety performance standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, and through grants to state and local governments to enable them to conduct effective local highway safety programs.

NHTSA and its predecessor agency have supported comprehensive national Emergency Medical Services System development for more than 40 years. Documents detailing the history of these efforts beginning with the 1966 "Accidental Death and Disability" and a chronology of activities and milestones are included.

NHTSA's speeches, press events & Testimonies are available to be browsed by year. Documents date from 2011- present.

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
PHMSA is a U.S. Department of Transportation agency that develops and enforces regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation's 2.6 million mile pipeline transportation system and the nearly 1 million daily shipments of hazardous materials by land, sea, and air. PHMSA's mission is to protect people and the environment from the risks inherent in transportation. To do this PHMSA establishes national policy, set and enforces standards, educates, and conducts research to prevent incidents. PHMSA also prepares the public and first responders to reduce consequences if an incident does occur.

The PHMSA Briefing Room page provides access to Congressional Testimony given by PHMSA staff from 2006 - present.

Full-text of current and past testimony covering DOT Hearings held by Congress is available from this site. Testimony captured from this site is from 1970-present. Testimony listings before 1998 may be incomplete or missing.

Multimodal Resources
The DOT Library has digitized historical documents from its collection relating to the history of the Department and transportation. The collections may be browsed and searched. The historical special collections include: Civil Aeronautics ManualsNational Conferences on Street and Highway SafetyHistoric Cab/Dot OrdersInvestigations of Railroad Accidents 1911 - 1993Papers By H.S. Fairbank - Frank Turner - T.H. Macdonald, and US Coast Guard Circulars.