9-11: A Supply Chain Call to Action
Amid tighter security restrictions, businesses in all sectors are struggling to find the proper balance between speeding product flow and ensuring security compliance. Here’s how three industry sectors integrate safety and security concerns to ensure a smoother, safer supply chain.
Who could have imagined that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” might one day hinge on whether a truck driver properly verifies a bill of lading or a shipper correctly identifies a shipment as hazmat?
Safety and security issues in the cargo industry have always been a primary concern among some legislators and regulators. But in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, cargo security has now become a question of national security, and the stakes and awareness have never been so high.
Compromises in aviation security have been and will continue to be the greatest threat to national safety—and for good reason. History, statistics, and the very nature of flying, have shown that the potential for disaster, as a result of security breaches, is very real.
The trucking industry also faces security challenges. Commercial cargo theft and hijackings have been an ongoing problem, dealing the industry a hefty blow of more than $10 billion a year. Until now, this dilemma has been purely economic.
“A scenario in which a truck driver or motor carrier warehouseman could wreak the same level of destruction as the Sept. 11 perpetrators wrought through air transport means is no longer hard to imagine,” noted Duane Acklie, chairman, American Trucking Associations, in a speech before the U.S. Senate in October 2001.
Similar concerns are prevalent among ocean carriers and port authorities as well, and recent legislation by Congress has appropriated more funding for port security assessments and enhancements.
Amid the myriad challenges facing logistics professionals, one thing is certain: there will need to be greater cooperation and integration among government agencies, state and local law enforcement, shippers, receivers, carriers, and third-party intermediaries.
“The U.S. transportation system includes 3.9 million miles of public roads, 2.2 million miles of oil and natural gas pipelines, 123,000 miles of major railroads, more than 24,000 miles of commercially navigable waterways, more than 5,000 public-use airports, 508 transit operators in 316 urbanized areas, and 145 major ports on the coasts and inland waterways,” according to a 2001 report by the DOT’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
These numbers are both impressive and daunting, given the events of the past few months. Which raises the question: What can and should be done to ensure that cargo is transported safely and securely, both domestically and globally?
While the answer is as complex as the very fabric of the U.S. transportation landscape, any long-term remedy will require an integrated approach that incorporates greater enforcement of existing safety regulations in cargo loading and unloading, and more vigilant security to make sure the people transporting cargo are qualified and trained to do so.
In a similar integrated approach, Inbound Logistics invited three cargo security experts to comment on the challenges their respective industries and businesses face as they balance safety and security issues in today’s economy. From law enforcement’s reaction to licensing issues to growing security concerns in the hazmat industry to the impact of evolving information technologies, these experts analyze and identify ways businesses can reevaluate safety and security practices to ensure a smoother and safer supply chain.
Making HazMat a Part Of the Workplace Culture
By Bob Jaffin, Program Manager, The Center for Hazmat Transportation Education, Anteon Corp.
What message should transport buyers and carriers take away from Sept. 11 and from the articles and comments appearing in this and other professional and trade journals?
One answer is this: We have never integrated hazmat into the workplace culture or transportation standards, and we collectively have failed to realize how necessary, and critical, security is in the workplace and on the road.
The proposed rulemakings appearing in the Federal Register for years (specifically HM-223 and HM-229) cover these areas. The regulations do not need a lot of cosmetic changes. But, since the world changed on Sept. 11, we now need to devote some additional level of effort to the security side. The larger issue is awareness and compliance, which we can achieve only through training and enforcement.
Although we have regulations on the books, antecedents explain why compliance remains at an alarmingly low level. All parties involved share responsibility: the government, organized labor, and manufacturers, as well as service companies such as carriers, third-party logistics providers, and NVOCCs.
The Center for Hazmat Transportation Education was created to address the larger issue while improving safety and security throughout the transport process. The Center has done primarily awareness training in the last year. We have proven that the knowledge gained through proper training can result in cost reductions in daily operations.
Effective regulations must meet three conditions:
- They must have the power to cause the public at large to comply.
- They must be known to the public at large, and be able to be used by the public.
- They must be supported by a sufficient cadre of people.
To those who are willing to look, it is easy to see just how poorly the government has fared in all three areas: regulations are largely unknown by the public; have little public support; and compliance enforcement is spotty.
For years the maximum civil fine the Department of Transportation (DOT) could exact was $250, or in criminal cases, $25,000. In 1991, the minimum amount for civil penalties started to increase—first to $25,000 (at the same time the criminal maximum increased to $500,000 and/or jail time), then to $27,500. Now the proposed maximum civil penalty may increase to $100,000. What does this mean? That regulatory authority without the necessary financial incentives leads to lax compliance.
The need for hazmat regulations has never been made clear to the affected constituencies. Most efforts at education or training have been put forth by two groups of professionals: subject matter experts who tend to direct the message/language to their peers rather than us mortal folk, and by specialists from health, safety, and environmental areas whose own knowledge is regularly imprecise and whose own regulations often contradict the transportation regulations. All mean well, all contribute to improved awareness, and all fall short of the mark.
Commercial or federal training programs don’t necessarily fully utilize educational specialists, industrial psychologists, and tech writers/editors to deliver high-quality hazmat transportation products to their constituencies. The Center for Hazmat Transportation Education is already planning to deploy all those assets as it develops its distance learning courses and larger interactive markets.
The DOT has also recognized the training/awareness conundrum and created a mobile, non-enforcement unit with a nationwide team that goes out to inform and assist, rather than to train or penalize.
To put this all in perspective, here are some disquieting facts to consider:
- Domestically and internationally, less than two percent of containerized freight at the seaports is inspected, and the error rate on hazmat shipments hovers around 40 percent of those two percent inspected.
- State-operated weigh stations do not have personnel on duty trained in, or necessarily allowed to, enforce hazmat regulations.
- Most uniformed law enforcement personnel are not equipped to know when or how to approach a hazmat shipment or how to protect themselves and the public from exacerbating such an incident. In most states a special unit is charged with this enforcement responsibility.
Currently, cost-benefit analyses, risk assessment, perceived high training costs with no return, misinformation, disinformation, and lack of information all conspire to prevent us from developing a nationwide partnership to address these problems. The chances of hazmat transportation disasters from ordinary commerce is orders of magnitude greater than from any terrorist-induced incidents.
Both domestically and internationally, less than two percent of all containerized freight at seaports is properly inspected—or packed, it appears.
It would be simplistic and foolish, however, to look to the federal government for all remedies to this miasma characterized by disinterest and lack of oversight.
Here are some suggestions to accommodate the new reality and correct the faults of the past:
Congress: Stop legislating. Get out of the way and pass no more ill-conceived laws until lobbyists indicate that they are needed. Fund a much larger training awareness program.
DOT: Simplify. Follow the lead of the government when it told insurers to rewrite policies so the insured could read and understand them. Don’t write laws and regulations that only someone with 22 years of education can understand. Normal people, such as shippers, receivers, and drivers, have to understand them before they can use them.
Local government at all levels: Front-line responders need help, big time. Be ready to train a lot more of the first responders, uniformed patrol personnel, and transportation workers.
Here’s a question for local governments: do you have any hazmat transportation standards for tow truck operators allowed on public roads? Typically tow truck operators are first on the scene and can assist and assess danger, given proper training. Not everyone needs to become an expert, but people need to know enough to know that they do not know enough.
All segments of the commercial market: Money talks. Invest in much fuller training for many more employees. It does not have to be overly expensive or intrusive. It’s like insurance—the lowest up-front cost is seldom the best value. This is one place that quality really counts.
Organized labor: Prod to protect. Recognize that it is unlikely that, without encouragement, many employers will invest in training that does not clearly offer measurable ROI. That said, the onus is on organized labor to protect the intangible features of a safe and secure environment—not just in the workplace but on the roads, rails, waterways, and skyways. Take the lead and fund training development and research.
Workers: push your union to act. You are entitled to expect a lot from an organization that collects dues from you.
History Repeats Itself
A new, and much scarier, world was born out of the madness of Sept. 11, resulting in a panoply of new ideas, regulations, and processes. But even before the terrorist attacks, the United States dealt with numerous disasters that called into question safety and security considerations.
Here are a few notable incidents that illustrate the long-term commitment to solving the hazardous materials transportation challenge.
Cargo aircraft burns up on the ground. No lives are lost and no action was taken.
Value Jet 592 goes down, and there are no survivors. Congress is in an uproar and quickly pushes through changes to regulations. The FAA gets authorization to hire hundreds of new enforcement personnel. Life returns to normal, but the paradigm remains unchanged.
January 4, 1992
The Santa Clara arrives in Baltimore in a damaged condition, having weathered a severe storm off the coast of New Jersey. Investigators said that the release of highly poisonous substances, for example, arsenic trioxide, created significant risk, noting, “several cargo hatches of the vessel were literally awash with the substance when it arrived in Baltimore.”
No action was taken at Baltimore and the ship sailed on to Charleston.
Four Days Later
The Santa Clara I arrives in Charleston, S.C., at 9:15 a.m. A stevedore working the vessel told the boarding officer that there was “a milky-gray powder covering the floor of the number-one hold.”
Thirty-five stevedores who had difficulty breathing were taken to a local hospital, observed for respiratory irritation, and released.
In fact, the combination of released materials in a marine environment was deemed a significant threat to the Port of Charleston. The ship went “cold iron,” was towed to a remote naval mooring, and could only be approached by personnel in protective outfits.
The FAA felt it necessary to issue a Notice to Airmen forbidding over-flights in the vicinity of the stricken ship in case of its unintentional atomization.
While trying to unload a stored railcar for the first time, employees of General Chemical overheat the car, causing a safety valve to trip. Approximately 100 gallons of Fuming Sulfuric Acid are released.
The release was dispersed by prevailing winds but spread a toxic vapor about 20 miles along the Sacramento River, leading to 24,000 visits to emergency rooms. The concentration of this very nasty material in the atmosphere was low enough so that no serious health effects were recorded.
A train fire causes disruption of a city and first-time-ever cancellation of baseball games. No lives lost, but lots of press addressing the impact on the city.
An engine-room fire leads to the deaths of two merchant mariners. One press report noted, “the Sunny Point firefighters had arrived at what would turn out to be the biggest emergency challenge in the installation’s half-century existence.”
The incident was never covered in the national press because, in fact, the heroic efforts of crew members and firefighters contained the fire without the ammunition going off so there was no newsworthy impact on the local population.
Technology Pushes Security Forward
By W. Gordon Fink, Project Manager, Cargo Handling and Cooperative Program
The recent increase in cargo theft and safety breaches are of growing concern to the transportation industry. Thefts, coupled with the potential to use shipments as “weapons of mass destruction,” place new demands on cargo security.
While terminal security has improved, there are significant increases in off-terminal theft—ranging from theft by organized criminal organizations that often have inside information on shipments to thefts that are targets of opportunity. Access to information technology systems, including corrupt employees who gain theft-targeting information, is increasing.
Any time cargo is stationary, its vulnerability to theft increases. The FBI conservatively estimates cargo crime at $12 billion per year—”the fastest growing crime problem in the United States.”
Additionally, the FBI believes that the growth in cargo theft is due to lax penalties, high profit, and low risk of tracing stolen goods. Because there is no central repository for cargo theft statistics, including common criminal practices, pilferage has resulted in an increase in the cost of doing business, including higher insurance rates.
In other areas of criminal activity, shipments imported into the United States are often used to conceal illegal goods—narcotics, trademark violations, etc. Recent emphasis on the potential to use cargo containers as weapons has increased the need for better information and inspection technology, ultimately resulting in increased costs as well as delays in cargo delivery.
Hazardous cargo movement is also placing increased demands on carriers and shippers—both in reporting and storage requirements and the increasing danger of theft. The list of cargo considered to be hazardous is growing, as are the concerns of the public, regulatory authorities, carriers, and terminal and port operators.
Technology is beginning to address carriers’ operational needs to reduce costs and increase safety and security. Some marine terminals use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on their chassis, generator sets, and in a few cases, containers, to reduce on-terminal costs. At the terminal gate, the container number and RFID chassis tag is entered into the manifesting system.
These systems improve the efficiency of terminals, and reduce gate delays. RFID systems also eliminate the need for keystroke date entry systems, diminishing the frequency of human error and increasing operational efficiency.
Rail carriers have installed RFID tags on all their rolling stock and placed readers on their tracks to provide railcar location. Recent innovations in information technology systems have integrated the container or trailer number with railcar identification, providing location information on the cargo, including estimated arrival and de-ramp times.
Customers who know what rail carrier is moving their cargo can access this data—often through the Internet. Marine terminals can also read the railcar RFID tag as it enters the terminal and use this information to immediately access the inbound container numbers.
Rail and marine terminals also use optical character recognition systems to read the container, trailer, and chassis number. Driver information entered into the software manifesting system provides a permanent record for cargo security and movement information. Terminal operators similarly use technology to remotely monitor the condition of reefer units and high-value cargo.
A number of long-haul trucking companies initially installed remote monitoring, location, and communication systems in their tractor units to provide information on driver and tractor performance, and to locate their tractor assets with in-transit cargo.
More recently, however, trucking companies have made significant investments in similar technology for trailers, permitting them to independently monitor the trailer location and its status (e.g., connected to a tractor, doors open, doors closed, and volumetric load percentage). Newly developed systems permit containers to be locked and unlocked via remote, so when theft is detected, the doors can be remotely locked and the truck engine disabled.
Among carriers, cargo security is already beginning to benefit from technology. Working with law enforcement authorities, carriers have used these systems to make cargo theft arrests.
The maturity of the technology, coupled with a reduction in cost, is compelling many trucking companies to invest more heavily in technology so they can better monitor the status of their assets—the trucks and trailers. Increased asset utilization offsets the need to purchase additional equipment and carriers are meeting the significant increase in customer demand for more information about their shipment location and estimated delivery time.
While these examples are critical to establishing the maturity and cost of cargo security technology, many challenges remain to be addressed.
The container and the chassis, in particular, present a unique challenge. The chassis can cause physical and operational problems, as they are often stacked for efficient storage on the terminal.
Stacking can damage RFID tags as well as the new remote monitoring system installations. Sometimes chassis are not returned to the carrier or lessor within the agreed time, thus increasing asset operating costs.
Projects are underway to investigate and test technology that would remotely monitor the chassis, container, location, and status. Emerging technology also will permit remote reporting of safety and status information on the chassis such as tire pressure, brake system status, lights, geographical location, generator set performance, and container security—in particularly seal integrity. Effectively communicating this information to the carrier will greatly contribute to improved cargo security and asset utilization.
Some of this technology is currently operational on trailers. Electronic cargo seals are being tested on “in bond” containers transiting the Northwest Corridor into Canada. This technology, whether in the form of disposable or re-useable seals, is viewed as a critical part of ensuring the security of cargo shipped in containers.
Knowledge of the containers’ location, as well as the seal integrity, is vital information that can contribute to increased security as well as faster response to increased demands for the location, safety, and delivery time for cargo in transit.
In the context of today’s economy, the long-term technology vision must address improvements in imported container cargo security.
One concept is to require pre-inspection at terminals and ports that export containers to the United States. The container would be imaged at the overseas port with non-intrusive technology similar to the Gamma Ray Imaging System currently being used at the land border crossings into the United States from Mexico.
Customs would pre-screen the image and compare it with a Gamma Ray Image made upon entry into the United States. Much of the processing would be automated through image change detection software including special Customs examination techniques.
While costly, this technology—coupled with electronic container seal integrity—would provide greater cargo security, especially if it could determine that a container has been tampered with prior to its entry into the United States.
Hazardous cargo shipments also present challenges. Technology responses will likely employ biometric information about the authorized driver combined with remote monitoring technology Systems will be able to track the hazardous cargo’s location and status to determine if the driver is straying from the “authorized route.”
This data, in addition to an emergency alarm triggered by a hijacked driver, could provide critical location and hazardous cargo identification information to law enforcement.
Ultimately, the results will be significant as cargo security technology applications are developed and tested, and the benefits are understood and quantified. Current technologies are emerging that will result in reduced implementation costs, and early adopters will benefit from reduced operating costs, improved safety and security, and increased market share.
Businesses in all sectors of the marketplace—in particular, the U.S. Military, and regulatory agencies such as U.S. Customs—will be the major beneficiaries of these evolving technologies.
A 9-11 Security Wake-Up Call
by Jim Willbrandt, Senior Manager of Safety, Health, and Security, Ryder System Inc.
Sept. 11 brought new meaning to the words safety and security. Ryder System took steps to tighten security at all our locations and on the vehicles leased from those facilities. Our rental and customer agreements are more stringent, requiring tighter controls around identifications, addresses, and proof of residence.
Our investigation of new hires is extensive, requiring past employment history, proof of U.S. citizenship, and criminal background checks.
Most importantly, our drivers have been retrained on critical safety and security measures inside and outside the vehicle and on the road.
They’ve also learned new procedures for handling potentially dangerous situations. Because some vehicles transport cargo with values in excess of $1 million, and can contain hazardous materials, we have incorporated a sophisticated system of protecting our employees and customers.
Our safety, health, and security team consists of 150 individuals with expertise in transportation and industrial safety and security, industrial hygiene, program management, and process control. They are committed to assisting customers in the process of driver evaluation, review of DOT requirements, accident prevention, EPA consultation, OSHA regulations, and total risk management.
Meetings are held daily and begin with a safety message. And a framework has been established to communicate concerns and processes for continuous improvement, requiring input and compliance at all levels of the organization.
In August 2001, Ryder began testing a Global Positioning System (GPS) for tracking and security. Since Sept. 11, the system is being used with a customer that transports poisonous gas. The GPS system, TrackStar, is a device that is installed in each vehicle, linking it to a centralized monitoring system. When activated, it shows the exact location of the vehicle at any given time.
The major benefit of the TrackStar system over other conventional GPS systems is that it includes panic buttons placed inside and outside the vehicle, a microphone with speakers that records and transmits the conversation in the cab in the event of a hijacking, and a personal panic button that remains on the driver at all times.
In the event of an emergency or hijacking, the TrackStar system allows Ryder to disable the vehicle, bringing it to a safe stop anywhere. Ryder and its customer felt that it was important enough to invest in this technology in an effort to protect this hazardous cargo.
There are inherent risks to operating any business, therefore companies must continually develop ways to minimize exposure to the internal and external forces that can distract them from their core business.
The strategy for safety and security excellence is simple to define—provide top management commitment, leadership, and involvement. It starts at the top or it doesn’t start at all and for trucking companies and drivers, change is imminent.
CDL Modifications Drive Change In Road Safety and Security
By Lt. Paul Sullivan, Massachusetts State Police and President of The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
We don’t know all the details regarding those individuals who fraudulently obtained commercial driving licenses (CDLs) in Pennsylvania (prior to Sept. 11) to haul hazardous materials.
But, no matter what kind of a program is in place, dishonesty and fraud on the part of administrative personnel are always possible. We must therefore examine the entire CDL structure and address those weaknesses that result in someone obtaining a CDL who should not be driving a commercial vehicle, whether for safety or national security reasons.
The primary tenet of the Commercial Drivers License program, which was fully implemented in 1992, is that each commercial driver have only one license and one driving record. In large part, this goal has been achieved. But as we know, this goal is much too limited and does not meet current needs, especially in terms of what we must now do to address and ensure national security.
The CDL program is a national program and, as such, needs leadership and direction at the federal level. The CDL program’s primary focus to date has been on the administrative side, making sure customer lines are short and people are able to receive licenses with limited effort and intrusion.
With few exceptions, in most states, the agencies administering commercial vehicle licensing are not the enforcement agencies. Since the enactment of the CDL law, the states, despite some federal requirements, have largely been able to execute their own approaches to implementing the various components of the CDL program. The result has been inconsistencies in testing, examination, administration, and ultimately data.
Current requirements for federal endorsements to the CDL—double/triple trailers, passenger, tank vehicle, and hazardous materials—provide only basic guidelines on knowledge areas and suggestions for additions to the knowledge and skills tests. There are requirements for the knowledge and skills tests, but they are only guidelines that address the minimums. For testing procedures, methods, and examiner qualifications, they are even less prescriptive.
Although there is much commonality in content, CDL licenses vary from state to state, especially in format, layout, and how they meet the tamper- proof requirement. To add to the confusion, states are allowed to implement their own endorsements and restrictions to the CDL if they so choose.
Teach to Pass the Test, Or Teach to Operate the Vehicle?
The CDL knowledge and skills test requirements provide a performance benchmark for what is to be expected of a new commercial driver and there are efforts to tighten this up.
There is a disconnect, however, between the knowledge and skills tests and the training and instruction being delivered at the driver training schools. Because the tests don’t necessarily reflect the real world, training schools often have difficulty in structuring their curricula—do we teach to pass the test or teach to operate the vehicle?
Additionally, there are some variances around the country for delivering the skills and road tests because of physical facility limitations. In many cases, there are valid reasons for this. The location of facilities, however, sometimes seems to be determined by economics more than safety.
The federal guidelines on the various endorsements do not go far enough to properly gauge whether a driver can, or should, be driving these types of vehicles, especially a newly licensed CDL driver.
Thus, the CDL problems primarily exist:
- In the ways the tests are administered.
- With the examiners.
- In the aftermath of the license issuance as it relates to data collection, judicial actions, and information sharing among jurisdictions.
The states, federal government, industry, and Congress have had a heightened awareness of some inadequacies in the system, most of which are known quantities and led to many of the CDL-related provisions in the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (MCSIA).
More resources have been allocated to deal with these issues at both the state and federal levels, and the federal government has begun to take a more visible role. Unfortunately, many MCSIA provisions have not yet been implemented and most of the deficiencies remain.
Safety and Security Weaknesses
These process and administrative inconsistencies do not ensure the safety and security we need, particularly in light of the Sept. 11 events and in the days since. These inconsistencies manifest themselves in ways that degrade safety and security.
Evidence of this fact is found in a pilot project the Commonwealth of Massachusetts just completed with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), with funding support provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This project, the CDL State Self Assessment, evaluated compliance with laws and regulations governing the issuance and management of commercial driver licenses through analysis of data in CVSA information systems. It also measured the linkage between the records of licensing and enforcement actions and records of commercial drivers’ crashes.
Here are a few results from the Massachusetts pilot:
- Some states are posting less than 50 percent of the serious and disqualifying convictions sent to them by Massachusetts via CDL information systems.
- License numbers are improperly transcribed more than 10 percent of the time on inspections and citations.
- There were uneven responses from driver history queries requested from other states (ranging from 53 percent to 95 percent in the states checked).
- The Commonwealth achieved much lower conviction rates for the most serious (and most dangerous) violations than for less-serious violations.
- The one percent of drivers who were driving while suspended accounted for five percent of at-fault crashes.
- Drivers who were convicted of serious offenses were involved in at-fault crashes almost 40 percent more often than baseline drivers were.
More Resources Needed
These results indicate that problem drivers are getting involved in more crashes than average drivers, and that much of the data necessary to identify these drivers is not making its way through the system. CVSA hopes for continued support from the FMCSA to conduct more self-assessments with the states in order to gather more data and to help members identify areas that focus their resources more effectively.
The world has become more reliant on technology. As a result of compartmentalized and non-uniform approaches to CDL processes, administration, and technology application, effective data collection, exchange, and utilization have become problematic.
The information systems and linkages that have been set up to gather and distribute this data (and at a minimum level) are patched together and not as robust as they need to be for several reasons:
No single source is able to consolidate and distribute all information on commercial drivers. The information resides in multiple systems, and a human does the only actual integration of sources. This could be a police officer by the side of the road or in an inspection station, or a judge making a sentencing decision, or a company making an employment decision.
The number of information systems and linkages, as well as the multiple data entry and format approaches, results in less data reliability and accuracy; opportunity for errors and intrusion; and more maintenance and upkeep costs.
The ability of accurate and timely data to be transmitted over such systems is not acceptable, both from a systems and communications perspective.
The CDL administrative processes and requirements are not uniform across the states, thereby leaving open too many opportunities for error and unwanted penetration, as well as oversight difficulties (especially for third-party testing and examination).
Legal obstacles exist to accessing certain pieces of information on individuals, most notably for privacy protection purposes. This limits the ability of people who could use the information for important security uses, such as potential employers, to have access to critical safety and security information.
The number of institutions involved is staggering and is not being coordinated in a manner that puts proper emphasis on safeguards for safety and security.
Meeting Safety, Security Needs
The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) has done the best it can to develop recommended standards, procedures, and guidelines for use by licensing organizations in their member jurisdictions, given the fact that these procedures and standards are not promulgated by law or regulation.
In fact, except for making sure that state information systems perform core data processing functions, no program either enforces or verifies compliance with these AAMVA standards, procedures, and guidelines. The approach to date has not been able to properly service the community’s needs for safety and security.
Most CVSA enforcement member jurisdictions have undertaken additional responsibilities since Sept. 11 that are over and above the usual motor carrier safety activities. Many use their personnel to guard airports, water supplies, and other federal and state government facilities, not to mention increasing their basic motor carrier safety activities with respect to hazardous materials haulers.
As an example of some additional initiatives being implemented, many CVSA members conduct Level III inspections (driver-only), and, upon enhanced interrogation if it is warranted, cross-check the CDL with the FBI’s NCIC database.
In addition to tightening requirements within the CDL program, a major tool to ensure greater safety and security of truck transportation will be the use of information technology with respect to the driver, the vehicle, the carrier and its ownership, and the cargo—including information on the shipper.
Only with technology can we achieve these goals, while maintaining the efficiency of our commercial transportation system.
Retinal Scans, Thumbprints and Digital Photographs
For the driver, this could mean considering the use of a “smart” CDL to store more than just the basic information it has to date. A “smart” CDL could include more detailed information on the driver, as well as information on the cargo.
We also need to make greater use of biometric identifiers (retinal scan, thumbprint, digital photographs, and signature/voice recognition). The costs, and in some cases reliability, of such technologies has thus far been a deterrent to adoption.
Further consideration should be given to better use of the existing safety and security data, including:
- A method to rapidly deliver easy-to-use, more complete information about the driver to the police officer on the road.
- A method to more easily deliver a complete view of the appropriate safety and security information to a potential employer.
- The ability to deliver more timely, complete, and readable information about a driver’s record to judges and prosecutors.
For better information on the shipper, the motor carrier, and the cargo itself, an electronic freight bill can be used along with a unique numbering and verification system, such as bar coding, for tracking/tracing capabilities.
For the vehicle, existing installed devices could be used to facilitate vehicle identification, tracking, and communication. For those without installed devices, these systems would have to be put in place. Integrated sensors would identify security and/or integrity breaches, and communicate in real-time with the driver, carrier, shipper, and law enforcement.
We should recognize, however, the fact that information about cargo, origins, destinations, and location of vehicles is considered sensitive business information and needs to be treated with appropriate respect.
To act on security breaches and/or mitigate hazardous materials and other incidents, emergency responders, medical and law enforcement personnel can be connected to this network. They can then be notified in real-time of problems and of the necessary equipment and personnel to deploy.
All these technologies, to one degree or another, are being used or have been tested by either the Department of Defense, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Customs, or Department of Transportation, as well as some motor carriers and shippers who now use electronic freight bills, GPS systems, transponders, and other related technologies. It is important to link these technologies and share the relevant information among appropriate federal and state enforcement agencies for safety and security purposes.
The side benefit of such a technological approach would be to facilitate border operations at land and sea crossings to address the safety, security, transportation, and immigration concerns revolving around NAFTA.
The issue then arises: who will have the authority to mandate or implement the use of the above technologies? Not to mention the coordination and sharing of the information? Perhaps this will be the role of the new Office of Homeland Security.
Without a regulatory body such as the Interstate Commerce Commission, it would appear that FMCSA and the state motor carrier safety enforcement agency personnel as represented in CVSA are the only groups available to reach truck companies, as well as drivers, for both safety and security purposes.
There are clear economic ramifications to what we are suggesting, and many competing ideas are on the table. We understand that as a nation we have to be measured in our responses. Along with the airline industry, the truck and bus industries are the lifeblood of our economy. Most drivers who hold a commercial driver’s license truly are professionals and as such, should be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
As a nation we need to do more to protect and promote this professionalism. Tightening up the CDL program is a very big and important first step.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance offered the following recommendations to Congress and the Administration on Oct. 10, 2001.
1. Streamline the CDL program and institute more rigorous and uniform federal standards for testing, examination, administration, data definitions, collection, and archival.
2. Commercial vehicle enforcement (the lead Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program agency in each state) needs to be at least on an even keel with the Motor Vehicle Administration in the state.
Customer convenience is important; so is safety and security. These two functions need to be balanced and integrated as much as possible to ensure seamless program administration and implementation.
3. Accelerate implementation of MCSIA commercial driver provisions, but make sure adequate resources are provided to the states and federal government for implementation.
4. Have state licensing personnel perform on-the-spot criminal background checks on drivers attempting to acquire CDLs with hazardous materials or passenger endorsements. Couple this with a photo ID requirement as well.
5. Create an authoritative information-consolidated database (a new national central database to supplant or augment CDL information systems) for commercial driver information. Provide the means to deliver this information to the appropriate users—enforcement and employers alike.
6. Provide a means for the industry to help police itself by having certain information available to motor carrier employees responsible for making personnel decisions. Encourage motor carriers to investigate new customers, and to work with and monitor their shippers’ practices for ensuring safety and security.
7. Develop a strategy for addressing security concerns in the rental and leasing business. Anyone can buy materials from a local hardware store and rent a truck at the local gas station to create a situation on the highway that is similar to Sept. 11.
8. Create a “watch list” for CDL drivers with hazardous materials and passenger endorsements. This list would track wanted criminals and others on national, state, and local FBI wanted lists, and send a red flag to commercial vehicle enforcement personnel when such drivers are encountered at the roadside. Ideally, it would integrate NCIC data and other FBI and intelligence information relevant to terrorist activities.
9. Provide commercial vehicle law enforcement personnel with the appropriate resources for the technology, training, and personnel to do their jobs effectively. We are not intelligence experts, but we need to be equipped with the proper knowledge and tools to assist those who are.
10. Implement appropriate measures and provide persons coming in contact with drivers the appropriate training to look for and identify document fraud.
11. Make sure the Homeland Security Office has strong representation from the transportation sector and is afforded the proper authority, in consultation with state and local authorities, to implement appropriate measures to protect the U.S. transportation network against future terrorist acts.
12. Implement a surface transportation technology safety and security strategy for entry into the country through seaports and land crossings that addresses both prevention and response. The strategy would include monitoring hazardous materials and passenger movements, and mitigating problems in the event of an incident or attack.
Such a strategy would:
- Verify/certify load and driver at the time of departure and throughout the shipment lifecycle.
- Integrate biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints, with the CDL, and provide technology with reading capability to law enforcement. The strategy would work with industry to provide this capability to consignees so they can verify load and driver at the time of arrival.
- Monitor and track capability of vehicles and drivers enroute to fleets and shippers.
- Provide exception-based reports to law enforcement in the event of a security breach, package integrity problem (i.e. hazardous materials release), and if a driver strays from the intended route of travel.
- Integrate emergency response and automated collision notification information in the event of an incident or accident.
- Establish a wireless network and centralized data center for real-time data capture and communications capability—access made available on a need-to-know basis to both industry and enforcement.
13. Develop and implement a nationwide public education and outreach campaign to make people more aware of these issues and how best to deal with any problems they may encounter. The same should be done for those involved in the transportation industry.
Robert D. Jaffin is the program manager for hazmat transportation training and the course developer for the Center for Hazmat Transportation Education at the Fairfax, Va.-based Anteon Corporation. Prior to joining Anteon in September 2000, Jaffin acted as the lead instructor, course manager, and senior internal hazmat transportation regulatory compliance expert at the Navy Transportation Management School in Oakland, Calif. Jaffin has worked closely with Department of Transportation hazardous materials specialists in the enforcement field offices both in Washington D.C. and at the DOT Transportation Safety Institute in Oklahoma City.
W. Gordon Fink is a consultant specializing in the application of new technologies. He currently serves as the project manager for the Cargo Handling and Cooperative Program, a public-private partnership sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. He has served as a senior executive in three branches of the U.S. government—TRW, ITS America, and SAIC. Fink is also a principal on the Council for Excellence in Government and a senior member of the IEEE.
Lt. Paul Sullivan is the newly elected president of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). A graduate of Western New England College with a Bachelors Degree in Law Enforcement, Lt. Sullivan is a 23-year veteran of the Massachusetts State Police. While serving in the Massachusetts State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section, he has been active in a number of CVSA capacities including serving as Secretary/Treasurer, First-Vice President and Chairman of the Vehicle Committee. Lt. Sullivan has also served as CVSA Region I President for the Northeastern United States.
This article is drawn from comments Lt. Sullivan made Oct. 10, 2001, to the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine.