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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 62· No. 3 > Internet Watch

Nov/Dec 1998
Vol. 62· No. 3

Internet Watch

by Kristin Iden

Welcome to E-World: The Second Annual Year-End Review of FHWA and DOT Web Sites

Last year, we reviewed some of the DOT and FHWA Web sites that we thought you in the industry should have in your browser's list of bookmarks. This year we are making it a tradition. We're going to take a spin down the cyber-road for a review of informative and innovative federal Web sites. By now, everyone should have the following three sites bookmarked in their browser:

  • http://www.dot.gov
  • http://www.fhwa.dot.gov
  • http://www.tfhrc.gov

Where else should you look for pertinent road information?

Well, if it's information you want, then stop by http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/index.html. The Office of Highway Information Management (OHIM) is a collection center for highway information and statistics. The office collects, analyzes, and distributes highway-related data from federal, state, and local sources. Here you will find documents such as Women's Travel Issues: Proceedings From the Second National Conference, Estimating Local Government Highway Bonds, Highway Taxes and Fees: How They Are Collected and Distributed, Annual Vehicle Miles of Travel and Related Data, and Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey and Household Travel Surveys to name a few. Some of OHIM's documentation is in Adobe Acrobat portable document format (PDF), so be sure to have your Acrobat Reader loaded. To save even more time when viewing a PDF file, you can configure your browser to launch the Acrobat Reader inside of your browser. OHIM falls under the Policy Office of FHWA and is a wealth of facts and statistics.

For those of you involved in safety and safety applications, you may want to stop by this site: http://www.ohs.fhwa.dot.gov. The Office of Highway Safety (OHS) of FHWA describes themselves best: "The Federal Highway Administration is responsible for administering highway safety programs related to the roadway and the road user. These safety programs remove, relocate, or shield roadside obstacles; identify and correct hazardous locations; eliminate or reduce hazards at railroad crossings; and improve signing, pavement markings, and signalization."

OHS works concurrently with the researchers of TFHRC and other offices of FHWA. Major sections of the OHS site include Traffic Control Devices, Rail Highway Crossings, Design, Work Zone, Speed Management, Data, and Safety Management.

As information and technology grow, so do the ways we apply it to our current technology. One of the best examples of that is the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Joint Programs Office's Web site. The Web address for that site is http://www.its.dot.gov. The federal ITS program is a joint effort of the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Federal Railroad Administration. This Web site reflects its diverse information sources. Now featured at the ITS Web site is the ITS Electronic Document Library (EDL). A word of caution however, the ITS EDL requires a user name and password, so be forewarned that to use all the information that this resource has to offer, you will have to register with EDL.

For those of you interested in the other end of the spectrum, you may want to check out the Federal Lands Highway (FLH) Office. This Web site was added to the FHWA Web server in January 1998. To access this site, use this address: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/flh/index.htm. Information pertaining to project plans, specifications, and procurement information on Federal Lands Highway construction projects are located at FLH field divisions' Web sites and are available through http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/flh/index.htm. Here you will also find construction manuals, federal specifications for building roads and bridges (FP-96), and other helpful tools. The information is presented in mixed media. Some files are PDF files and some are straight word-processing files available for downloading.

Outside FHWA, one of the most well-known Department of Transportation Web sites is http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov. Better known as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this site is well-respected for its breadth and depth of information. NHTSA is responsible for reducing deaths, injuries, and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. There are three major information categories at this site: NHTSA, cars, and people. NHTSA research encompasses some major issues that we drivers are concerned about: seatbelt safety, airbag issues, injury prevention, and testing results. Another great feature is the DASH (DOT Auto Safety Hotline) micro site. Here, users can browse the database for safety issues, file a defect report, or learn how to avoid becoming "Sam Saddriver." This site should be bookmarked by everyone working in the industry.

One last site to be sure to visit is the Garret A. Morgan (GAM) Web site. This DOT site is designed to serve as a catalyst to enhance transportation education at all levels. Garret Morgan was an African-American inventor who created the first modern traffic signal - a device that provided the foundation for managing traffic flows in the 20th century. The GAM site encourages young people to enter the work force as a transportation professional. The site can be found at http://www.dot.gov/edu.

These are just a few sites that will assist the transportation professional in finding much needed information. Combine these sites with sites already reviewed throughout the year, such as the National Transportation Library (http://www.bts.gov/NTL), and, of course, http://www.tfhrc.gov, and you'll be set!

Kristin Iden is the Web master and electronic publishing specialist for the Federal Highway Administration's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. She has a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's degree in library and information science. She is currently working on a second master's in technology management from the University of Maryland. She is employed by Avalon Integrated Services Corp. of Arlington, Va.

Full URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) for all Web sites mentioned in the article:

http://www.dot.gov

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov

http://www.tfhrc.gov

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/index.html

http://www.ohs.fhwa.dot.gov

http://www.its.dot.gov

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/flh/index.htm

http://www.bts.gov/NTL

http://www.dot.gov/edu

To find the Adobe Acrobat Reader:

http://www.adobe.com

Adding a Plug-In to Your Browser

Plug-ins are simply programs that work with and within your Web browser to extend the capability of the browser's functions. There are about a zillion different plug-ins available that you can download and install. Most are free, though there are some that have an enhanced versions that you may purchase. The normal process for adding a plug-in to your browser goes like this:

  • First, go to the manufacturer's home page for the plug-in. (Sometimes your browser will assist you and tell you exactly what plug-in you need.)
  • When you arrive at the manufacturer's home page, look for a download area - something that reads "Get OUR Plug-In!" Click there and save the file to your hard drive (just remember what file you put it in.)
  • Close your browser, find the file, and double click on it. You will get the normal installation prompts. Answer "yes" to those prompts. For some plug-ins, you will need to restart your machine. For the newer plug-ins, they go right to work - and you will be able to view the new capabilities of your browser.
  • The Acrobat PDF file is a portable document format file. PDFs replicate the printed version electronically. PDFs can be used in the same manner as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) documents. They can be transmitted via the Web, attached to e-mail, or used in CD-ROM creation. PDFs are an easy way to preserve a document and extend its original use. The only drawback to PDFs is that they are normally large files that require considerable download time. They should always be used judiciously.

When you have questions about plug-in installation (and I am sure you will), be sure to follow the on-screen prompts and refer to the documentation that is online or contained in the "Readme Text" that comes with the plug-in. Acrobat Reader questions can usually be answered at the Adobe site (www.adobe.com.) And for those who are still not feeling confident enough to install their own plug-ins, just wait. The next version of your browser will probably come with many plug-ins pre-loaded.

Happy Surfing!

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