Trucking industry rolls out anti-terrorism plan

May 13, 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, according to information from the American Trucking Associations.

Under the plan, a potential three million professional truck drivers will be trained to spot and report any suspicious activities that might have terrorism or national security implications. 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 hundreds of thousands of 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, truck stop operators, and intermodal groups.

The first phase of ATAP includes a color-coded security threat-alert system matched to the system used by the Office of Homeland Security. The alert levels range from Green, or a low risk of terrorist attacks, to Red, with a severe risk of attacks. As each threat level is reached, additional trucking security activities kick into operation.

The 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 the 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. U

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. The information will then be screened and sent quickly to proper federal and state authorities for prompt action.

A full-fledged Highway Watch Operations Center is planned for the next phase of the security action plan. The dependency of the economy on trucking, and the desire to contribute to the war against terrorism, is the main motivation behind their security plan, say its backers. The industry hauls 68 percent of all the freight moved in the United States, and over 75 percent of America's communities depend solely on trucking for safe receipt of their goods.

According to industry leaders, these facts make it more important than ever for the trucking industry to have a plan to keep our highways safe and secure, and to keep rolling. Otherwise, given the country's dependence on trucking in our daily lives, America stops.