There are nearly 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials on U.S. highways each day. Safeguarding these shipments from possible terrorist use as weapons of mass destruction is the focus of the U.S. Department of Transportation-sponsored Hazardous Materials Safety and Security Operational Test.
The purpose of the project was to test the safety and security of different technologies and procedures, and identify the most cost-effective means for protecting different types of hazardous cargo from attack by terrorists.
The 18-month test included 100 trucks equipped with a variety of existing technologies. The project tested, singly and in combination, the capabilities of technologies such as:
- driver verification using password logins, fingerprint biometrics and smart cards;
- vehicle and load tracking, using satellites and other wireless systems;
- off-route and stolen vehicle alerts, using geo-fencing;
- cargo tampering alerts, using electronic seals;
- driver distress alerts, using driver panic buttons; and
- remote vehicle disabling, in instances of known terrorist attacks.
The test also documented best practices for security of hazardous materials used by shippers, carriers, and consignees, which will provides an effective toolbox of technical and nontechnical methods of protecting hazmat shipments.
The project tested the technology systems in four operational scenarios. The scenarios were developed to evaluate the systems' ability to address critical vulnerabilities in a broad range of hazmat trucking operations. The vulnerabilities were identified using a sophisticated Hazmat Risk/Threat Assessment conducted as part of the project. The four test scenarios included:
- Bulk fuelflammable gases and liquids
- Less-than-truckloadhigh hazard materials
- Bulkdry chemicals
During the test, 25 trucks for each scenario were equipped with varying combinations of technologies to assess their ability to improve the safety and security of the shipments.
Support systems were also installed at the trucking companies, shippers, and consignee locations.
The project determined how the integration of technology applications can be used to reduce the likelihood of terrorist attacks, while attempting to improve business productivity and safety. An important component of this research was the documentation and analysis of attributes, benefits and costs of both the tested technologies and a wider array of commercially available technology products designed to enhance hazmat shipment safety, security and efficiency.
Of equal importance, the project identified and promoted practical, real-world strategies and procedures (non-technology-based) that may simultaneously reduce the vulnerabilities and enhance productivity associated with the transport of hazardous materials.