MoDOT Investigators to Examine Security Needs of Trucking Companies

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- In an effort to safeguard the trucking industry against terrorist attacks, Missouri Department of Transportation investigators will begin conducting security reviews next year.

The Washington-based Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which represents state transportation departments, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also are overseeing the pilot project.

The reviews, which will encompass 300 to 400 motorcoach companies and several hundred cargo trucking firms in Missouri, will be conducted at the same time that MoDOT investigators perform routine safety checks of trucking firms and their equipment.

"We'll tell companies about potential problems we notice and perform safety audits, including a review of drivers' records," said Ben Goodin, MoDOT's motor carrier enforcement administrator.

He said each driver's citizenship status, present and prior residence information and criminal history will be scrutinized. Afterward, MoDOT investigators will provide written suggestions to the companies.

"Their drivers, their passengers, will have a higher comfort level knowing the company has had the assessment and provided the information to keep the threat low," Goodin said.

Depending on the success of the pilot program, he said there is a "real good chance" other states will follow Missouri's lead.

Mike Tettamble, an official at O&S Trucking, said the Springfield company already has a security plan that includes limiting accessibility to trucking terminals. But he welcomed government help to improve security.

"Nothing's bulletproof," he said. "I believe we learned that back on 9/11, but we have a much better awareness and handle on our freight when it's moving across the country."

(c) 2005 Associated Press