Tank truck carriers should take a new look at their security measures, but not try to recreate the system, says Steve Niswander, safety and compliance vice-president of Groendyke Transport Inc, Enid, Oklahoma.
He made the remarks at a meeting of the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) Western Safety Council meeting October 5 in Houston, Texas. The meeting was dominated by security discussions necessitated by the September 11 terrorists attack on the United States. Joining Niswander in the discussion were Cliff Harvison, NTTC president, and Roy Acton, safety director for Mission Petroleum Carriers, Houston, Texas.
Niswander recently returned from a meeting of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance where security concerns were discussed. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has urged hazardous materials carriers to step up their security measures, saying that tank trucks and their cargo may be at risk to further terrorist threats.
"Check out the people you have and don't take anything for granted," said Niswander. "Look out for the unusual and out-of-the-ordinary, and advise your drivers to be vigilant around truck stops and while loading and unloading. Immediately report any unit that is missing or stolen to law enforcement authorities and the NTTC."
Harvison noted that tank trailers containing hazardous materials are often parked at terminals that could be penetrated by terrorists. DOT officials are advising carriers to begin 24-hour terminal security to offset those risks, he added.
Niswander also noted shippers are stepping up security and are requiring drivers to have two photo identification cards. However, their customers who have their own equipment to transport the product are often exempt from the requirements, he says.
Harvison noted that privacy issues can arise from dispensing information about employees. The CDL and social security number are property of the driver. Drivers' permission should be obtained before releasing their CDL and social security numbers. Carriers also should exercise caution when providing driver identification badges to avoid duplications.
While carriers ratchet up their own security measures, many elements are out of their control that could contribute to CDL fraud, Niswander said. Inconsistencies exist in various state commercial driver licenses (CDL) regulations. In Arizona, for example, a CDL with a hazardous materials endorsement is issued for 30 years. "In many other states, that CDL has to be renewed every two years," he said.
Coupled with the regulation inconsistencies are problems with other methods of CDL fraud. In Illinois, officials discovered one driver using the CDL of a person who was dead, Niswander said.
In Pennsylvania, 20 fraudulent commercial driver licenses were issued. Of the 20 issued, 18 had hazardous materials endorsements, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
There are other elements that are impacting carrier operations as a result of the need for increased security. Inspectors are taking longer with roadside inspections, Harvison pointed out. He advised carriers to keep shippers apprised of the delays when they occur. Delays also are expected to be increased at the border between the United States and Mexico, particularly for tank container inspections.
In other federal security action, DOT has issued a carrier inspection directive to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) field staff. Inspectors have been ordered to visit carriers that transport hazardous materials to increase security awareness and to review driver records. FMCSA has stressed that these are not enforcement visits, and requests carrier cooperation.
Acton said the inspectors present information, including a list for developing and implementing a security plan. The plan includes personal security, hazmat and package control, en route security, technical innovations, management prerogatives, communications, and readjustment based upon current conditions.
Acton said inspectors asks for dates of the last time a tank trailer was stolen and if it was loaded at the time. The inspection took about three hours and involved gathering information about the company's 60 drivers. He suggested that carriers have information prepared for the visit that includes a list of drivers hired for the past several years, social security numbers, dates of hirings, and dates of terminations.
While DOT inspectors are conducting most of the inspections, carriers that haul product for governmental agencies can expect a visit from Department of Defense inspectors, said Acton.
Niswander recommended that all inspectors be asked for identification to ensure the people seeking access to company records are federal officials.