As terrorists around the globe see trucks as an ideal weapon of mass destruction it is imperative that the trucking industry take every precaution to combat this growing threat. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) hosts quarterly conference calls to update the industry on various threats, resources, and programs. We participated in the mid-February call.
Unfortunately, as we saw in New York on October 31st, vehicle ramming is on the rise. In this attack, the terrorist rented a Home Depot truck, drove it through a pedestrian/cyclist trail killing 8 and injuring 11, then drove off and hit a school bus. He then left the truck with a pellet and paint gun. He was shot and arrested by NYPD. This was the only vehicle attack on American soil during 2017. In May of 2017, TSA issued a report on vehicle ramming with countermeasure such as: “Would-be terrorists can be stopped by some of the least-intrusive and lowest-cost means available: meaningful security awareness. Drivers and staff who both remain alert to potential threats and report suspicious activities to appropriate authorities are the most effective means of detecting acts of terrorism by commercial vehicle.”
TSA created the countermeasures chart (see below) in cooperation with the industry. This partnership, similar to NYPD Shield and Truckers Against Trafficking has been successful in thwarting attacks. Still, there is more work to be done. TSA is collaborating with the Trucking Association of New York, the Kentucky Trucking Association, and others on security exercises and training programs. TSAs goal is to update the vehicle ramming guide annually. In the meantime, training modules are available at tsa.gov.
Another major threat to the industry is cybersecurity. Company names, DOT numbers, and other online data are being stolen. Thieves are impersonating companies to hijack loads and holding them hostage. Phony fuel advances are also being requested and stolen. Many thieves are using freight brokerage software to commit fraud, with food theft becoming increasingly common. TSA is working with the brokerage industry on countermeasures through changes with bonding, insurance, and fuel advance requests.
Theft is not the only issue with food transportation. TSA and the USDA are working on a Food Transporter Visor Card to protect food from intentional contamination. In discussing vetting programs TSA wanted to clarify that hazmat endorsement letters sent to drivers are just a courtesy. The letters are NOT proof of valid HME.
Lastly, TSA is reading mountains of feedback regarding the ELD mandate, penalties for noncompliance are still set to begin in April. The feedback was described as a “mixed bag”. TSA wanted to emphasize that any data downloaded by a local officer is only available to that officer. TSA is not compiling a database of downloaded ELD files (this is unlikely to convince skeptical truckers).
We thank TSA for all the work that they do an look forward to receiving their reports. If you would like to be included on these calls, send an email to Highwaysecurity@tsa.dhs.gov or David.Cooper1@tsa.dhs.gov.