Reporting for duty

After several months of research, discussion and negotiation, a trucking industry working group on security last month rolled out an Anti-Terrorism Action Plan built around mobilizing industry workers – especially about 3 million truck drivers – as “America’s Trucking Army.”

The plan calls for the training of truck drivers to spot and report suspicious activities that might have terrorism or national security implications. It also proposes various actions and measures depending on the terrorism threat level as determined by the Office of Homeland Security.

ATAP, which was developed by a “Trucking Security Working Group” of industry associations, proposes expansion of the Highway Watch Program to coordinate training and the industry response to terrorist threats. It also calls for an industry-led Highway Watch Operations Center to function as an information sharing and analysis center that will coordinate communications between the trucking industry and government organizations.

Under ATAP, as the threat of terrorist activity rises, so does driver vigilance. Driver check-ins become more frequent and drivers would receive broadcasts of updated threat information, cargo theft and hijackings. Drivers will report security-related information to an industry-sponsored toll-free number. The information will be screened and sent to appropriate federal and state authorities.

Other elements of the plan include a process for evaluating technologies that could improve the security of trucks, terminals and other operations and improving industry access to information databases to undertake security and criminal background checks of commercial truck drivers and possibly other employees in sensitive positions.

Ongoing process
Representatives of the working group, which was spearheaded by the American Trucking Associations, stress that ATAP is not a final document but rather a framework from which to build. Phase I of ATAP, announced May 13, focuses on programs in which government and industry share the costs of resources needed to enhance security. The second phase of ATAP will list security measures that may be considered by industry members individually.

Training of “America’s Trucking Army” began last month as the first drivers in Maryland received special anti-terrorism and security training on a Saturday at a hotel near Baltimore’s airport. That training followed highway safety observation and reporting training for drivers as part of the Highway Watch Program.

Many – if not most – elements of Phase I are in the very early stages of implementation. The plan envisions the Highway Watch Program expanding to all 50 states, but currently it’s operating in just six. Some of the proposals, such as expanded access to criminal history databases, could require legislation or regulation. Getting commitment from law enforcement agencies to respond quickly to cargo theft and hijacking may be difficult. And there is the small matter of funding the training of 3 million drivers and the running of a 24/7 Highway Watch Operations Center among other costs. The industry will be looking for federal support.

Support from states
ATA President William Canary acknowledges that the challenge is great. But he also believes that the industry already has in place a great asset: the 50 state trucking associations. By using the state associations as conduit for training and other resources, the industry can implement ATAP efficiently. “Our strategy is to use as the central core the state associations,” Canary says, adding that the state groups already are providing safety training materials. “These folks are the wheel that makes the program move.”

Canary believes that the industry’s proactive stance against terrorism already is paying dividends in terms of respect from the law enforcement community. “Things have changed,” Canary said in a speech last month to the Randall Trucking Symposium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. “When a load of cyanide was stolen in Mexico, the FBI put out an alert. Then they called us. That’s never happened before.” Indeed, if ATAP does nothing more than give trucking a seat at the table regarding America’s terrorism response, many people will consider it a victory.

An emblem for the Army
William Canary, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, last month unveiled a new trailer logo that will show the nation that the trucking industry and its drivers are patriotic and proactive.

“We have to stand together to make a difference,” Canary told attendees last month at the Randall Trucking Symposium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. “We’ve got 3 million drivers on the road every day. We’ve got patriots in those seats. I don’t need to tell you that. We didn’t have to be drafted for the security effort.”

The emblem, which Canary debuted at the Symposium, bears the words “On Duty For America” embossed on an American flag. To emphasize the round-the-clock nature of the trucking industry, the emblem bears the numbers 24, 7 and 365 at the bottom. The design will be available soon for placement on trailers and truck bodies.

“I want motorists to look at our trucks and see a symbol of Democracy,” Canary said. “I want them to see an American who will protect us. We should earn the respect we deserve. A trucker needs a symbol to put on the truck that says that.”

DOT floats hazmat security rules
The U.S. Research and Special Programs Administration proposed several new requirements aimed at tightening the security of hazardous materials shipments. Some groups representing carriers and shippers of hazardous materials have expressed potential concerns over the proposal and have asked for more time to review it.

Hazmat security requirements are needed, RSPA says, because previously the agency’s hazmat transportation safety program focused on reducing risks related to unintentional release of hazardous materials.

Registration certificates
Under the proposed rule, RSPA would require motor carriers registered with the agency to maintain aboard each vehicle a copy of their current registration certificates. Today, carriers must display their registration numbers on a document carried on each motor vehicle, but they don’t need to maintain a copy of the certificate itself on each vehicle.

Shipping papers
RSPA also proposes to require that shipping papers include the names and street addresses of the consignor and consignee, as well as the shipper’s DOT hazmat registration number, if applicable. Currently, the regulations generally require only that shipping papers describe the material.

Under the proposal, each transportation segment must have its own shipping paper. A shipment consolidated at an intermediate facility, for example, would need a new shipping paper reflecting that location as the origination point.

Security plans
RSPA proposes to require implementation of hazmat security plans by shippers and carriers that are subject to the registration requirements in Subpart G of Part 107 or that offer or transport infectious substances listed as select agents by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Carriers and shippers should use risk management models to assess security risks and develop appropriate measures, RSPA said. The agency has made available a guide to a risk self-assessment on its website (

RSPA proposes to require, within three months of a final rule, security training for all hazmat employees of entities required to have security plans. That training must include awareness of security issues, possible methods to enhance transportation security and information on how to recognize and respond to possible security threats.

Industry concerns
Several industry associations representing hazmat carriers and shippers quickly responded that they needed more time to review RPSA’s proposal. The Distribution & LTL Carriers Association asked for a 60-day extension, saying that interested parties needed more time to determine whether the proposal truly would enhance security and whether its provisions would be cost-effective.

The group questioned, for example, the proposed requirement for a copy of the registration certificate on each truck. The real issue, it said, is identifying hazmat transporters who never register with RSPA and will not have any identifying information.

The proposed requirement for security plans “is easier said than done, even though RSPA has developed guidelines and templates,” the distribution and LTL carrier group said, adding that it would be particularly difficult for small carriers.

Other requests for extensions have been submitted by the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, the National Propane Gas Association and the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council.

DGAC was particularly critical of the proposed requirement for registration certificates in trucks. “How can security be enhanced when registration certificates are mailed to anyone who submits an application?” DGAC argued that RSPA’s proposal might make things worse by creating a false sense of security when a law enforcement officer is presented with a registration certificate.

RSPA’s notice of proposed rulemaking was published in the May 2 Federal Register. For more information and a copy of the NPRM, visit and search Docket 12064.

Threat condition actions Proposed by the Trucking Security Working Group

Severe condition
Severe risk of terrorist attacks

  • Measures at lower threat levels continue.
  • Highway Watch Operation Center communications is granted priority telecommunications access with designated federal and state contacts.
  • Approved route plan for sensitive infrastructure coordinated and activated through the Highway Watch Operations Center. Trucks directed to predetermined checkpoints through the Highway Watch Operations Center.

High condition
High risk of terrorist attacks

  • Measures at lower threat levels continue.
  • In response to enhanced security at critical infrastructure, pre-cleared vehicles are expedited at selected areas.
  • Industry workers increase reporting and vigilance on key highway infrastructure, including interstate highways, bridges, tunnels and major seaports.
  • Regional broadcast by the Highway Watch Operations Center to law enforcement and the trucking industry of any reported missing or overdue equipment.

Elevated condition
Significant risk of terrorist attacks

  • Measures at lower threat levels continue.
  • Exception reports for unaccounted dispatched vehicles or static equipment presented to the Highway Watch Operations Center.
  • Law enforcement focuses on security awareness at routine traffic stops and/or at existing weigh facilities based upon specific threat information.

Guarded condition
General risk of terrorist attacks

  • Green-level measures continue.
  • Industry workers are given updated threat information and maintain increased vigilance on the nation’s trucking assets and highways.
  • Law enforcement responds to industry reports of cargo theft or hijacked vehicles report within 30 minutes.

Low Condition
Low risk of terrorist attacks

  • Trucking industry workers receive training on observation and communication procedures to enhance security and extend the surveillance capabilities of law enforcement.
  • Maintain, through the Highway Watch and its Operations Center, normal vigilance.
  • Conduct background checks on commercial drivers, including criminal history.
  • Work with the Department of Transportation to establish a national ID card for transportation workers.
  • Use Rewards for Justice Program to encourage security threat reporting.
  • Communicate with federal and state governments and appropriate trade associations.
  • Review and expand, if necessary, security programs covering personnel, facilities, equipment and cargo.
  • Law enforcement responds to industry reports of cargo theft or hijacked vehicles within 60 minutes.
  • Pre-cleared vehicles expedited at international borders.
  • Industry works with appropriate law enforcement on truck security inspections.
  • Highway Watch Operation Center coordinates scenario-training drills.

Trucking Security Working Group
Agricultural Transporters Conference
American Moving and Storage Association
American Trucking Associations
Canadian Trucking Association
Distribution and LTL Carriers Association
National Automobile Transporters Association
National Tank Truck Carriers
Total Security Services International
Transportation Intermediaries Association
Trucking Association Executives Council
Truckload Carriers Association
State trucking associations (organized into 4 regions)