The Department of Homeland Security has spent nearly $20 million to get 400,000 professional trucks drivers – including 10,000 from Missouri and 14,000 from Illinois – trained in the finer points of terrorism spotting, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Some say that’s not nearly enough. Truckers carry 70 percent of the nation’s freight, yet the federal government spends 100 times more on airplane safety than it does on trucking security, safety experts said.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration recently pledged a $19.3 million grant to train truckers for Highway Watch. The program was formed in 1998 and gives truckers a national hot line to report trouble, including highway hazards and emergencies not related to terrorism. During the one-day training session, truckers learn about truck bomb terrorism around the world, how terrorist attacks play out and the ways someone might case a target. The hot line handles about 200 calls a month nationwide. About half a dozen of those are security-related and have led to “ongoing investigations,” officials said.