ATA trucking army to serve as anti-terror force

June 1, 2002
The American trucking industry has rolled out its Anti-Terrorism Action Plan (ATAP) targeted to keeping key highways open, safe, and secure and enabling

The American trucking industry has rolled out its Anti-Terrorism Action Plan (ATAP) targeted to keeping key highways open, safe, and secure — and enabling the wheels of commerce to keep rolling.

Under the plan, a potential three million professional truck drivers will be trained to spot and report any suspicious activities. Their goal: to make certain that a truck is never used as a weapon. The action plan is a coordinated effort of the Trucking Security Working Group, a task force of organizations representing transportation, trucking, and trucking-related workers in the United States and Canada, Included are associations of long-haul and local trucking companies, tank truck carriers, agricultural transporters, moving and storage firms, truck rental companies, truckstop operators, and intermodal groups.

The first phase of ATAP includes a color-coded security threat-alert system matched to the system used by the US Office of Homeland Security.

Proposed expansion of the American Trucking Associations' (ATA) Highway Watch Program will play a critical role throughout all alert levels. Currently, with support from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, ATA and several of its affiliated state trucking associations train drivers to spot and report emergency and safety situations. ATAP would expand training to truck drivers in all 50 states, adding observation and communications procedures to enhance national security and extend surveillance capabilities of law enforcement.

The trucking security plan escalates as alert levels rise by increasing driver vigilance of interstate highways, bridges, tunnels, and seaports; activating driver-dispatcher check-ins; and adding regular broadcasts of cargo theft and hijackings. Updated threat information from federal authorities would also be broadcast to drivers. Initially, truck drivers will report security-related sightings to an industry-sponsored 800 number. Information then will be screened and sent to federal and state authorities for prompt action. A full-fledged Highway Watch Operations Center is planned for the next phase of the security plan.

Dependency of the US economy on trucking and the desire to aid in the war against terrorism are the main motivations behind their plan, say its backers. The industry hauls 68% of all freight moved in the United States, and more than 75% of US communities depend solely on trucking for safe receipt of their goods.

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