Trucking industry beefing up security

Wednesday, September 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Even the nation's truckers have stepped up security in response to last week's attacks. Trucking companies have increased the use of electronic tags or satellites to track their loads.

News on Six reporter Lori Fullbright shows us how truckers are being more vigilant than ever. Denton Nall unloaded his rig in West Tulsa and is headed back to Missouri. Safety weighs heavily on his mind since the East Coast attack; he says people carrying explosives or chemicals now risk being truck-jacked. Denton Nall, Louistown, Missouri, "I think they should take a closer look at what's in these trucks, the DOT, to see what's actually on the roads." His truck doesn't have a satellite tracking system, but, many do, it's the white globe sitting up behind the cab.

Sooner Freight in Tulsa has it. So, they know immediately if a driver is in trouble and where he is. Mike Robertson, Sooner Freight VP: "If he's going to LA, we tell him which highways to take and where to stop and refuel so if he veers off course, we know there's a problem." The system updates every 15 minutes and tells the company at a glance, which city each truck is near, can even zoom in to the exact block and street. Plus, each driver has a cell phone and calls in frequently. "When he leaves a stop, he may have ten stops, whenever he leaves, he calls in and says I'm leaving stop 2." On the truck's dash, a message board notifies drivers when they have a message, at their next stop; they pull out their keyboard, read it and type in a response.

Since not all companies are as high-tech. The American Trucking Association issued safety tips to drivers this week. They should call in frequently, vary their route, park near other truckers, beware of being followed and beware of strangers flagging them down or asking questions. Bruce Kiefer, Little Rock, Arkansas, "We're taking care. We're not allowed to have weapons with us, so we take extra precautions.” Those precautions could keep drivers and their cargo safe. So, they can deliver their goods without fear and keep on trucking.

The trucking association also recommends all drivers have up-to-date photo ids, to keep their shipping records handy and be prepared to be pulled over and checked by law enforcement.