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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Semi Trucks and Terrorism




After the world was taken by surprised with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 significant changes were implemented in the United States in regard to semi trucks. There is a possibility that the use of large trucks could be used for terrorism and that is something that needs to be carefully guarded against.





The United States government closely guards against those with a CDL accessing hazardous materials. They require a background check with fingerprinting to be completed for anyone with a CDL that wants this type of endorsement. There are plenty of flammable and toxic materials hauled in semi trucks that need to be protected.





There is also the problem of terrorists taking semi trucks that have such products on them in route. They can kill the driver’s and take the trucks if they really want to access the various materials they are hauling. The potential scenarios that could result from such materials being used for terrorism are too many to mention. Yet it is likely that they could result in mass deaths and even contamination of the water and the air.





There have already been some semi trucks involved in various terrorist attacks. In 1993 they were used to engage in the attack on the World Trade Center. The fact that there are so many semi trucks out there hauling dangerous materials makes them a viable weapon for terrorism. The fact that placards have to be in place on semi trucks hauling these materials is supposed to be for safety but they also identify them as easy targets for terrorists.





One of the ideas the Department of Homeland Security has been considering is placing GPS on all trucks that haul hazardous materials. This way it would be very easy to identify those that are off course. It would also be possible to identify any semi trucks hauling hazardous materials into areas where they are not allowed.





In the event of a semi truck hauling dangerous materials, being involved in an accident, the GPS could result in clean up crews being sent to the scene immediately. All of the information relating to the types of materials being hauled would be available so crews would know how to proceed. Yet the cost of implementing such a program would be very expensive. There would also be ongoing costs for monitoring the activities of all these semi trucks.





The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has also come up with a device to prevent terrorists from using semi trucks. This device can be mounted in various areas of the truck. If it is believed the safety of the semi truck has been compromised the device can be instructed to come to a full stop by activating the air brakes. There is still more research that needs to be looked into for this type of concept to be realistically installed in all semi trucks.





We have all seen the effects that terrorist attacks can have on society. Protecting semi trucks from getting into the wrong hands is very important. Most truck drivers are trained in the possibility that their truck could be taken for such a purpose. Many trucking companies have procedures in place for the driver to follow if such an event occurs. Many of the reports of suspicious activities relating to semi trucks are reported by truck drivers themselves as they are the eyes and ears of the open road.