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Speeches and Presentations

Women’s History Celebration: Women in Transportation Executive Panel

Heidi King, Deputy Administrator, NHTSA

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 | Washington, DC

Women’s History Celebration: Women in Transportation Executive Panel

Heidi King, Deputy Administrator, NHTSA

March 13, 2018

Question: What do women in STEM and transportation tech innovation have in common?

Answer: Nobody knows how much we’re capable of achieving, and where new opportunities will take us!

Success in technological innovation draws on characteristics women show in managing our careers in tech:

  • We don’t ask, “How has this been done all these years?” but instead ask ourselves, “What is the right answer?”
  • We don’t ask, “How do other people want me to solve this?” but we ask ourselves “How do I solve this problem?”
  • We communicate data-driven and fact-based results, not outdated expectations or beliefs.
  • We are optimistic about our vision for the future while remembering the women who paved the way for us to get there.
  • We stand by the results of our intellect and our integrity, while maintaining fortitude for growth and continuous education.

For technological innovation to achieve its promised benefits, we need courageous leaders to help us tackle the difficult problems.

It takes courage to confront the unknown, and it takes courage to tackle seemingly intractable problems. It takes courage when dealing with conflicting resource demands.

The etymology of the word “courage” comes from the Latin word for “heart.” We all must have courage – and heart – to tackle the tough issues surrounding transportation technology in order for the tech to meet its full potential.


Emerging Technology in Automotive Transportation

At the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and throughout the Department of Transportation, safety is our top priority.

Our mission at NHTSA is to save lives, prevent injuries, and to reduce the economic costs associated with traffic crashes.

The new technologies that excite us the most are those that promise to improve the safety of the vehicles that we drive to work, to school, and on which we depend for so many activities in our lives.

Exciting new technologies are in cars on our roads today:

  • 911 Automatic Crash Notification Systems to notify emergency responders of a crash
  • Backup Cameras that help drivers see behind the vehicles for safer operation in reverse
  • Blind Spot Detection to warn drivers, with audio or visual signals, of vehicles in adjacent lanes
  • Automatic Emergency Braking Systems that detect an impending forward crash and either slow or stop the vehicle to reduce the harm of the crash
  • Lane Departure Warning Systems that have cameras that monitor lane markings to alert drivers when they drift out of their lanes without a turn signal
  • Lane-Keeping that actually helps the vehicle steer to return to the lane of travel
  • Cornering Lights that adapt the beam of headlamps through a curve.

Technologies that some believe will further contribute to vehicle safety:

  • Replacing rear and side view mirrors with cameras
  • Adaptive beam headlamps that detect and adjust to avoid glare for the drivers of oncoming vehicles
  • Automated Driving Systems including the concept of the self-driving car. Automotive transportation is now exploring operating systems, radar and lidar, cybersecurity, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, and more.

The opportunities seem boundless.


Intelligence and Courage

The journey of transportation technological innovation and the journey of women in STEM tell a story.

  • Good ideas are smart, but great ideas have heart. Innovation takes intelligence. Using the promise of technological innovation to improve our lives and to make our roads safer also requires creativity, wisdom, compassion, and determination.
  • Doesn’t this describe women in transportation, and women in technical fields? These are the women who have blazed new trails into superhighways for the rest of us. They showed intelligence, rigor, creativity, wisdom, and compassion.
  • After all, the needs of the Nation, the opportunity for all of us, requires it. From all of us.