A Look at Transportation’s Bright Future

By Tom Zoeller

early model flying car
Yes, we'll be there to investigate a flying car crash, too

This week, I chaperoned my son’s fifth grade class to the National Building Museum.  One of the exhibits focuses on the World’s Fairs from the 1930s.  It was pretty entertaining to step back more than 75 years and see how people then viewed the future, especially transportation.  We still are far away from Jetsons’ flying cars, but I am pretty confident that we have some great minds working to improve things. 

Earlier in the week, I had the opportunity to represent the NTSB in speaking to the Eno Transportation Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to “seek continuous improvement in transportation and its public and private leadership in order to increase the system’s mobility, safety and sustainability.”  The foundation sponsors graduate students in transportation policy and hosts visits to Washington, D.C. where the students are able to interact with a host of transportation interests — on Capitol Hill, in the Executive Branch, various associations, and other non-governmental entities. 

In speaking about the NTSB’s top safety issues, I was impressed by the thoughtful and insightful questions the graduate students posed to me and my fellow panelist from the DOT’s Federal Highway Administration. I was pleased by their focus on safety.  For one, they were appalled to learn that some states have repealed their motorcycle helmet laws!  It was clear that the next generation of transportation leaders is concerned about improving the safety of all our transportation modes, as well as creating a vibrant system that will meet the demands of the 21st century. 

Yes, there are some bright minds that will soon be taking the reins in transportation planning and policy.  We may still have to wait 75 years before we get our own personal flying car, but I’m confident that if this group of young leaders is any indication, our future will be in very good hands.

Tom Zoeller is Executive Officer of the NTSB.

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