A year and a half after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, efforts to secure the trucking networks crisscrossing the United States continue to move forward slowly for a number of reasons.
The cost of security technology is the main stumbling block, said Drew Robertson, director of the New York City-based Freight Transportation Security Consortium. However, but that's largely because neither federal nor state governments nor truckers themselves are exactly sure what they want the technology to do.
"The scale of security technology envisioned by the people in Washington D.C. doesn't fit the business model needed in trucking so far," Robertson told Fleet Owner.
"Carriers and shippers don't want particular technologies forced on them because it could get expensive," he explained. "The margins are so thin today in trucking that carriers can't afford the kinds of technology being looked at. So a way has to be found to provide capital for security investments first before they can be installed in significant numbers."
He thinks reduced trucking insurance premiums for having such onboard security systems is the way to go, but so far that idea has not made any headway.
Robertson points to the Department of Transportation's (DOT) two-year hazmat truck security demonstration project as an example. The $2.5 million program is testing a variety of security systems -- including driver fingerprint verification, off-route vehicle alerts, stolen vehicle alerts, cargo tampering alerts, and remote vehicle disabling -- on 100 hazmat trucks.
Yet Robertson points out that workable security systems developed from this project may not fit the needs of non-hazmat carriers.
"If we can't develop systems that meet the needs of a large majority of the trucking industry, it may be a waste of time," he said. "We really can't push for a nationwide cargo tracking system because the human and financial resources are just not there right now."