(TNS) — The U.S. transportation secretary made a trip to Ohio to see how cars can avoid crashes.
Elaine Chao watched on Monday as government researchers showed how vehicles could hit the brakes on their own to avoid collisions with simulated pedestrians.
The work is being done at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, a 4,500-acre proving ground that includes a testing center for one of the offices Chao oversees: the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
"Innovation is one of America's greatest strengths, and this center here embodies all of that," she said.
Chao is a Washington, D.C., veteran, having served as secretary of labor under President George W. Bush and deputy secretary of transportation under President George H.W. Bush. She is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
One of the demonstrations on Monday involved a Volvo SUV equipped with sensors and the ability to brake automatically. With dozens of officials watching, the vehicle came to a sudden halt a few feet from hitting a plastic dummy that had been rigged to zip into the road.
With each test, a driver was in the vehicle, but the braking was done automatically.
"They're seeing a bit of the current state of the art of the auto industry — and the future," said Mark-Tami Hotta, president and CEO of the Transportation Research Center.
Chao's visit also was designed to call attention to the Trump administration's accomplishments since taking office in January. She noted the country's continued growth in employment and other positive indicators.
Her agency probably will play a key role in implementing the president's expected plan to make a large investment in roads, bridges and other infrastructure. She said she expects that specifics will be released this summer.
Asked about Chao's visit, the Ohio Democratic Party questioned some of her statements with political overtones.
"Photo ops like today's event with Secretary Chao don't create jobs, and they won't fix Ohio's struggling economy," said David Pepper, the party chairman, in a statement.
"It's hard to see Trump's 'infrastructure plan' as anything other than one more broken promise to the people of Ohio, since his very own budget slashes the U.S. Transportation Department by $2.4 billion."
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