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Homeland Security

Harzardous Materails Transport

The largest security risk within the motor carrier industry is the transportation of hazardous materials. There are over 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials (HM) each day in the U.S. The motor carrier industry dedicates more than 400,000 large trucks to the transportation of hazardous materials. A subset of this fleet participates in approximately 18,000,000 shipments of gasoline and 125,000 shipments of explosives a year. The risks associated with transporting HM range from many shipments of materials that pose a moderate risk to a limited number of shipments of materials that pose extreme risks.

Shipments falling into the first category of posing moderate risk nclude the transportation of large quantities of flammable liquids and gases, specifically gasoline and propane. There are as many as 300,000 daily movements of these materials to residential areas and urban areas and other population centers. Security on these shipments is loose because the activities are commonplace and there has been no history of terrorist threats in this area. Tank trucks with flammable liquids or gases can be used to create fires and explosions that can cause multiple deaths or damage high value facilities such as bridges, monuments, rail stations or airports.

Transports that pose an extreme risk in the motor carrier industry involve the transportation of explosives and poisonous gases. Although there are many fewer of these shipments and the security is generally tighter, these materials can cause extensive damage. Poisonous gases have the potential to kill many people and explosives can damage infrastructure such as bridges, tunnels, or dams.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has investigated methods to improve motor carrier security. These methods include remote vehicle tracking system, remote vehicle disabling systems, off-route alert systems, and electronic ignition locks. While these systems exist, they are not in widespread use in the commercial transportation of hazardous materials. In addition, as in the case of vehicle tracking systems, the systems have previously been geared toward efficiency and its security benefits have not been fully explored.

The FMCSA believes that conducting an operational test to demonstrate the effectiveness of these technological solutions in enhancing security will speed up their deployment by the industry. The evaluation of the operational test will also quantify the maintenance costs of these systems, and other operational and safety benefits beyond their security purposes. Click here to see a full description of the FMSCA security project.

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Page last modified: 13-07-2011 12:51:04 ZULU