California Plan Would Halt Trucks Remotely in Attack
Three years after a truck driver slammed an 18-wheeler into California's state capitol building, lawmakers are considering a plan to link trucks carrying hazardous material to a satellite tracking system that would halt them if they were used in a terror attack, according to a report in Reuters on January 2. The trucks would be equipped with devices that would either cut off fuel to the engine or set the brakes when activated. The proposed bill would implement the country's most stringent safety regulations for trucks carrying fuel and other hazardous materials, but it faces fierce opposition from local trucking companies who complain that the rules would make California truckers uncompetitive. Assemblyman John Dutra introduced the bill in February 2003 California trucking-industry representatives argue that regulations on truck safety should be implemented only at the national level. They say the bill would only impact California-registered trucks that make deliveries within the state. "California truckers are 10 percent of the nation's trucks, and it would only be required of those," said Stephanie Williams, senior vice president of the California Trucking Association. "All it does is make us uncompetitive. This needs to be done at a national level." Dutra remains confident that the bill will pass the Senate this year, although he acknowledged that modifications to the bill may be needed to secure its passage. Mike Russell, spokesman for the American Trucking Association, said the idea of disabling an 18-wheel truck might seem good, but an errant shut-down could wreak havoc on highways, Russell said. "If it's rush hour on a California freeway behind a tanker truck and it suddenly stops, just the simple traffic hazard scenario is enough to make us leery of using this."