Chris Nelson:

Despite congressional hawing, in October 1966 Johnson signed into law the bill that bundled almost three-dozen federal groups and agencies into one executive department. The DOT was up and running in about six months, quickly becoming the fourth-largest federal agency with almost 100,000 employees. The Federal Highway Administration emerged as the largest and most active branch of the DOT, spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to maintain the nation’s interstate highways. The DOT has influenced the evolution of the automobile, especially in the mid-’80s when then-director Elizabeth Dole pushed states to pass laws requiring seat-belt usage and called for the ubiquitous installation of the “Dole brake light” (commonly known as the third brake light).