FMCSA studying ways to improve security
Feb 1, 2005 12:00 PM
THE FEDERAL Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is examining various ways transportation security can be improved should terrorists decide to either attack facilities or use tank trailers in an attack, said Joe DeLorenzo of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
He made the comments at the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) Cargo Tank maintenance Seminar October 18-20, 2004, in Chicago, Illinois.
The FMCSA and other Department of Transportation agencies have been working with carriers and other related companies to develop programs to enhance transportation security.
The agencies have been examining various forms of technology and trying to determine the costs and benefits for both carriers and the public.
Among the technologies examined were wireless mobile communication bases in conjunction with global positioning systems (GPS).
Also examined were panic buttons installed in-dash or wireless equipment that enables the vehicle to be disabled remotely. The method affects the throttle to slow down and stop the vehicle.
Other technology can be used by dispatchers via on-board computers to disable the vehicle. Loss of signal could also trigger an appropriate response.
With the use of GPS systems, dispatchers could receive off-route alerts, as well as information about whether a trailer was tethered or untethered.
FMCSA looked at driver/cargo identification verification programs, smart cards, and electronic product seals. Mock events were staged to examine response capabilities, and included scenarios during loading, enroute, and delivery.
FMCSA also organized an expert panel from the transportation industry to examine the various studies and to advise the agencies. Among the panel members are Cliff Harvison, NTTC president, and John Conley, NTTC vice-president.
DeLorenzo also advised carriers to have a security plan in place, but to conduct a thorough assessment before setting it up and to be sure the assessment is site specific.
He also advised carriers to develop a plan that allows adjustment, depending on the seriousness of the threat, and that will allow immediate response. More information is available at fmcsa.dot.gov, including suggested security plans for transporting hazardous materials.
When assessing threats to and vulnerabilities of an operation, information to consider includes: type of hazardous material transported; frequency and quantity of shipments; packaging type; and amount stored on-site.
Carriers also need to identify and address business practices (including relationships with external partners), such as the emergency response information that is available on site, and physical assets that are a part of the hazmat transportation activities.
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