With the FBI giving periodic warnings of possible new terrorist attacks, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta asked all U.S. carriers to keep their truck drivers at a heightened state of alert. Speaking at the American Trucking Associations’ 2001 meeting in Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 30, Mineta warned, “Every truck driver must realize his vehicle is a possible weapon of terror.”
While the war against terrorism is waged overseas, concern over protecting our homeland remains focused on what terrorists might do next. It’s not far-fetched to consider the potential of trucks being used to carry chemical or biological weapons, or explosives, in an attack. Security has been stepped up across the nation’s highways, and truckers are being asked to keep their eyes and ears open. “Your trucks are the engines of America’s economy, but they can also be used as the engines of terrorists,” Mineta said. To further protect against terrorist plots, Mineta announced the formation of two new committees: the National Infrastructure Security Administration and the Surface Transportation Direct Action Group, which will study ways to secure our ground transportation system.
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Transportation, said truckers are vital to our economy and national security. “We’re counting on you to keep your eyes open, be alert and keep freight moving across the country,” Shelby said.
Meanwhile, hazmat truckers will get extra scrutiny from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration inspectors as they continue to visit hazardous materials carriers over the next few months. David Longo, a FMCSA spokesperson, said state enforcement agencies have been asked to concentrate on driver-only inspections of hazmat trucks in roadside inspections. Longo said CDLs with hazmat endorsements are being scrutinized by the FBI, with special attention to those CDLs issued in the past few years.
Longo and Mineta have asked truckers to support FBI efforts to report any suspicious activities you see or hear about. Either call your dispatcher or contact the FBI’s website, www.fbi.gov.
While committees form and issues are studied, truckers should remain vigilant. Some of the security measures have already caused delays and increased waiting times at inspection sites, but truckers have said they don’t mind. There’s no better watch force out there, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, monitoring the roads and looking for anything out of the ordinary. As Mineta said, “We must work together to prevent security breakdowns across all modes of transportation.”