DOT infographicThe U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) says that this country needs to make major improvements to the transportation system to avoid becoming a fossil. In a blue paper titled “Beyond Traffic 2045,” DOT writes that innovations in other parts of the world will leave this country’s transportation system far behind by 2045.

For example, DOT writes that in 2045:

In Asia, electric buses travel endlessly without refueling because they receive their power wirelessly.

In Europe, driverless cars zoom around the highways,and because the technology is so safe, car crashes are as much a part of the past as horse-and-buggy accidents.

By 2045, the report cautions, these technologies will not be in wide use in the U.S. because the government did not make them a priority, encourage them, or put a plan in place to regulate them. But if steps are taken now, there will be a bright and safe future on U.S. roads, the report says, as driverless vehicle technology has the potential to eliminate 9 out of every 10 car crashes.

Jessica Plautz reports for Mashable that DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx spoke about the report in a Q&A session on Monday with Google’s Eric Schmidt at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. The report has three parts: the major trends shaping the transportation system, such as increasing freight traffic and population growth; what those trends imply for each transportation sector, such as highways, public transit, pedestrian, aviation, and freight; and a discussion of future policy options and scenarios, Plautz writes.

Foxx, who arrived at the event with Schmidt in a driverless car, said that in the future, public transit agencies will be acting more like Uber, Plautz writes. Foxx added that there could be joint ventures between government agencies and some on-demand services. “[I]t may seem like a wild idea today, but you don’t know,” Foxx said.

As Todd Solomon writes for the DOT’s Fast Lane blog, the agency is asking Americans to weigh in with ideas for the future of transportation. The complete “Beyond Traffic” draft framework is 322 pages, but the Blue Paper gives a brief overview, and there is also a brief video, Solomon writes.

The DOT encourages people to click on the Share Your Ideas button and answer some questions there. “When the ideas are all in, we’ll pore over them and synthesize them into a final Framework,” Solomon writes. He also invites those on social media to “try your hand at our #BeyondTraffic Photo Challenge” by posting photos of “How we move today” or “How we’ll move in 2045,” making sure to include the hashtags #beyondtraffic and #USDOT. Every day, the DOT will post its favorites on The theme of the photographic challenge will change every week or so, Solomon writes.

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