Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Hearing on Intelligent Transportation Systems
September 10, 2001
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I would like to join you in welcoming our distinguished witnesses. I appreciate the time and effort they have taken to be here today, and I looking forward to hearing their views on the status of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).
I was on the House Public Works and Transportation Committee when ITS was first discussed in ISTEA. Back then we called it IVHS for Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems. The focus of the discussion at that time seemed to be more on driver less cars rather than the applications we will learn about today. To be frank, I was a little weary of the claims and promises of the IVHS imitative because it seemed a little far fetched to me. However, the research vision of ISTEA has resulted in some very practical innovations which are now referred to as ITS. Although I understand the Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI) is working on some of those Ageewiz@ gadgetry of IVHS, I am more intrigued by the advances in traffic operations that is now being deployed.
My state of Oklahoma has been on the cutting edge of this technology. As one of the first states in the nation to implement Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) or the PIKE PASS we in Oklahoma have enjoyed for many years now the convenience of driving through a toll booth instead stopping, waiting in line only to find our you don=t either have enough or the right change.
The national 511 initiative is very exciting. As the backbone of a national infrastructure, consumers will be able to get travel information regardless of their location and will not only be able to communicate more easily with emergency personnel, but will be easier to locate in emergency. Certainly this is a very positive development, yet it raises some very troubling concerns, namely privacy, particularly with any tracking or geolocation devices. I hope Christine Johnson, Director, Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, U.S. Department of Transportation will be able to give us some level of comfort as to how we can enjoy the benefits of ITS innovation without sacrificing our right to personal privacy.
Oklahoma is at the crossroads of north/south and east/west freight movement. As such I have an interest in hearing how the intermodal logistics and commercial vehicle initiatives are progressing and will be especially interested in learning from Mr. Lawrence Yermack, Chairman of Intelligent Transportation Society of America about commercial applications of ITS technology.
Despite the presence of two major metropolitan cities . . . Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is still a rural state and I understand ITS technology has some real safety benefits for smaller communities and sparsely populated areas. I understand Steve Albert from the Western Transportation Institute will discuss rural applications and I look forward to his testimony.
Finally, I understand that Elwyn Tinklenberg, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Transportation will discuss ITS technology from a state level prospective; James Beall, Jr., Chairman Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, will provide the local prospective; and Martin Manning, Director, Clark County Department of Public Works will discuss how ITS can be used to address problems associated with the rapid population growth.
Again, thank you Mr. Chairman for giving me the opportunity to personally welcome our witnesses and I look forward to hearing what they have to share with us.