ALEXANDRIA, Va. — As many as three million U.S. truckers will be trained to identify and report suspicious drivers and vehicles in an industry-wide effort quell potential terrorist threats.
The project — implemented in particular to protect tunnels and bridges — has been announced by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) as a response to continuing concerns that trucks hauling fuel or hazardous materials could be used as a bomb.
Since Sept. 11, when passenger jets were used as guided missiles wreak havoc on the Western world, all modes within comprising the transport industry have increased vigilance to guard against possible attacks.
“The goal is simple,” says the ATA’s Mike Russell. “We’re going to do our level best to see that a truck is not used as a weapon.”
Trucking companies have already taken steps to conceal routes and cargo while encouraging truckers to lock their rigs to minimize the risk of hijacking.
Now, the industry will build on a safety watch program in 12 states to include security measures nationwide. The program will feature a color-coded threat assessment system matched to one used by the federal government to gauge a range of potential terror threats.
A toll-free hot line will be established to handle calls from truckers, with the information they report being passed along to local law enforcement. Activity on highways and around tunnels, bridges and seaport terminals will be watched more closely.
“We know what should be on the road and what should not be on the road,” adds Russell. For instance, truckers will take closer notice of driver behavior and stopped vehicles. Drivers would also be updated regularly on cargo thefts, arrests and truck hijackings.
The industry initiative follows a report by the Transportation Department May 10, that found federal and state controls to prevent the fraudulent acquisition of commercial truck licenses remain inadequate.
Investigators have identified 16 states where commercial licenses had been or might have been obtained illegally since 1998, including Illinois, Florida, New York, Tennessee and Michigan.
After Sept. 11, the Justice Department released a list of 22 people who had been indicted for obtaining fraudulent commercial truck licenses. None of those charged, however, have been linked to any terrorist groups.
Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry. All posts by Truck News