When the California legislature reconvenes for its 2004 session, it will take up the issue of whether state-registered fuel trucks should be outfitted with equipment that will allow it to be stopped remotely in case of an emergency such as a terrorist attack.
The bill was introduced in February 2003 by Assemblyman John Dutra, and it passed the assembly. The bill failed to pass the senate mainly because of opposition from industry groups. Dutra says he will try again this year.
Dutra’s office estimates that it would cost $26 million to outfit all of California's 26,000 fuel delivery trucks with satellite tracking gear that will either stop the engine or put on the brakes from a remote location. Industry groups see the equipment as unnecessary and a financial burden, making California carriers less competitive than those in other states.
The impetus for the bill was an incident in 2001 when a truck was crashed into the state capitol building. The truck, which only carried milk, was driven into the building by an ex-convict and mental patient. It caused $10 million in damage but could have burned the building to the ground, Dutra says, if it was loaded with fuel.
California’s Highway Patrol, whose agency has been testing remote shut-off equipment, said that two or three gasoline trucks are stolen annually in the state.