U.S. federal transportation law can be found in title 49 of the U.S. Code. Pursuant to 49 USCS § 101, the purpose of transportation law is to provide fast, safe, efficient, and convenient transportation at the lowest cost, consistent with those and other national objectives. The purpose includes efficient use and conservation of the resources of the U.S. The Department of Transportation (“DOT”) was formed to facilitate these goals.
The DOT is an executive department of the U.S. Government[i]. The head of the DOT is the Secretary of Transportation. The Secretary of Transportation is appointed by the U.S. President, by and with the advice and consent of the senate[ii].
49 USCS § 101 provides that the DOT is necessary in the public interest and to:
- ensure the coordinated and effective administration of the transportation programs of the U.S. Government;
- make easier the development and improvement of coordinated transportation service to be provided by private enterprise to the greatest extent feasible;
- encourage cooperation of federal, state, and local governments, carriers, labor, and other interested persons to achieve transportation objectives;
- stimulate technological advances in transportation, through research and development or otherwise;
- provide general leadership in identifying and solving transportation problems; and
- develop and recommend to the President and Congress transportation policies and programs to achieve transportation objectives considering the needs of the public, users, carriers, industry, labor, and national defense.
Other federal agencies for the effective administration of transportation are:
- Federal Railroad Administration[iii].
- Federal Highway Administration[iv].
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration[v].
- Federal Aviation Administration[vi].
- Federal Transit Administration[vii].
- Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration[viii].
- Maritime Administration[ix].
- Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation[x].
- Bureau of Transportation Statistics[xi].
- Research and Innovative Technology Administration[xii].
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration[xiii].
- Transportation Security Administration[xiv].
- Transportation Security Oversight Board[xv].
Apart from federal law, there are state transport regulations for each state. The regulation of motor vehicles on public highways is a legitimate exercise of the police powers of a state[xvi]. Pursuant to such power, the state may make all reasonable laws, rules, and regulations for the safety and protection of the public[xvii].
Further, a city or local authority may enact its own traffic laws as long as they do not conflict with the provisions of state law, unless expressly authorized by statutes[xviii].
[i] 49 USCS § 102 (a).
[ii] 49 USCS § 102 (b).
[iii] 49 USCS § 103.
[iv] 49 USCS § 104.
[v] 49 USCS § 105.
[vi] 49 USCS § 106.
[vii] 49 USCS § 107.
[viii] 49 USCS § 108.
[ix] 49 USCS § 109.
[x] 49 USCS § 110.
[xi] 49 USCS § 111.
[xii] 49 USCS § 112.
[xiii] 49 USCS § 113.
[xiv] 49 USCS § 114.
[xv] 49 USCS § 115.
[xvi] State v. Mayo, 106 Me. 62 (Me. 1909).
[xvii] Harkrider v. Posey, 2000 OK 94 (Okla. 2000).
[xviii] State v. Greene, 97 Wn. App. 473 (Wash. Ct. App. 1999).