The specter of additional terrorist attacks on the United States has caused the Dept. of Transportation and the trucking industry itself to offer short- and long-term solutions to prevent trucks from being used as weapons.
Already, some drivers are reporting that law enforcement agencies have checked and rechecked their cargo several times along their routes. Delays at border crossings are uneven; sometimes trucks move through quickly, but bottlenecks of several hours are still being reported.
Other deliveries are being affected, too. “It is taking us six hours to get on and off military bases,” says John Groendyke, CEO of Groendyke Transport, Enid, OK. Groendyke, also chairman of the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC), says that he understands and accepts the additional security measures at military bases, but it has caused his drivers to miss deliveries promised the next day. “Extra security has productivity and efficiency problems. The question is: Who will pay for this?”
Groendyke has told his drivers to carry several different forms of ID because his main concern is that customers feel comfortable that the driver is who he says he is. “Our customer wants to know who is driving and that the load is what they ordered.” To that end, Groendyke and many NTTC members would like to see a system showing the chain of custody of cargo so the receiver knows it has not been tampered with during transport.
Much attention also has been placed on driver screening. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Chief Safety Officer Julie Cirillo told a congressional hearing that she would like to see a biometric indicator, like a thumbprint, added to commercial driver's licenses.
U.S. Transportation Sec. Norman Y. Mineta gave Congress his security wish list, including giving DOT inspectors greater authority to check cargos, expand requirements for training people — including drivers — involved in the transportation of hazardous materials, address the current overlap of hazardous-materials transportation regulations between DOT and OSHA, and allow participation by states in a coordinated program of hazardous-material carrier registrations and permits. It was also announced that over the coming months, FMCSA inspectors will visit most of the nation's 80,000 haz-mat carriers to discuss security issues, including personnel screening, package control, routes and using technology to protect cargos.
Interestingly, Mineta did not ask Congress for legislation that would require criminal checks of commercial drivers, believing that is up to states.
Paul Sullivan, a lieutenant with the Massachusetts State Police, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section, and newly elected president of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine that a “watch list” for CDL drivers should be created.
“This list would track wanted criminals and others on national, state and local FBI wanted lists and send a red flag to commercial vehicle enforcement personnel when such drivers are encountered on the roadside. Ideally, it would integrate NCIC data and other FBI and intelligence information relevant to terrorist activities,” Sullivan said.
Others agreed, saying that industries with impact on public security, such as federally chartered banks, nursing homes and nuclear power facilities, have been allowed access to national crime data but trucking has been left out. “Motor carriers are a glaring omission,” Duane Acklie, chairman of the American Trucking Assns., told Congress.
For now, trucking companies and drivers are taking security matters into their own hands. Many companies report that drivers are checking their seals at every stop, bypassing stranded motorists for fear of a hijacking and not discussing their loads with other drivers.