Drivers are key to any security program. They are likely to be the first to spot potential trouble, and they're the people most likely to come face to face with terrorists or cargo thieves.
Following are some tips to help drivers keep cargo, equipment and themselves safe and secure.
Check all paperwork to make sure it's complete and accurate. Make sure the cargo listed is what's actually in the trailer.
Stay with the truck while it's being loaded. Look for people watching or loitering in the area when they have no reason to be there. If something looks suspicious, report it to the shipper and/or your carrier. Make sure the cargo is properly secured in the trailer. All access doors should be sealed and locked before leaving the loading dock. Don't discuss your route with shipper personnel unless you're instructed to do so by your company.
Before departing, check communications equipment to make sure it's working. Contact dispatch to let them know you're on your way. Establish an approximate time of arrival at your destination and make sure someone will follow up if you're late and haven't called in.
If possible, get an update on the planned route. This will allow you to plan ahead for construction, weather or other delays – possibly even change the route if there are concerns about time or safety.
ON THE ROAD
Be alert when leaving the shipper's facility, at stop-offs or parking areas. According to security experts, criminal surveillance often begins within a mile of the load's origin. Interstate on- and off-ramps are popular places for hijackings. Always pre-plan routes and stops. If possible, vary routes and schedules.
Be suspicious of vehicles that seem to be following you, especially if there are three or more people in the car. If you suspect you're being followed, call 911 and try to get to a public area as soon as possible.
Avoid getting boxed in by traffic. Maintain adequate following distance and leave plenty of room when you stop behind other vehicles. Whenever possible, keep the lane beside you open. When stopped at a traffic light or in traffic, watch for anyone approaching your vehicle.
If you suspect someone is trying to hijack your vehicle, keep moving if possible and get to a public area. If someone attempts to take your vehicle by physical force or with the use of a weapon, don't resist. Get to a safe place and call 911. Without jeopardizing your own safety, watch and listen to the hijackers so you can give police as much information as possible.
Be especially vigilant around fueling facilities, railroad facilities, bridges and tunnels. If you see suspicious activity, report it to local law enforcement authorities as soon as possible.
Don't discuss your cargo, destination or other trip specifics on open CB channels or near people you don't know. Cargo thieves often hang out at truckstops or rest stops, usually posing as drivers. Sometimes they try to initiate conversations about loads. Often they just eavesdrop on other conversations. If asked where you're headed or what you're carrying, be vague, or simply tell them you're not allowed to discuss destinations or loads.
Be careful when stopping to help stranded motorists or at accident scenes. Check out the situation carefully before parking and getting out of the truck. Notify local law enforcement authorities so they can dispatch emergency services as needed or simply to make them aware of a potential road hazard.
Don't pick up hitchhikers or give a ride to a stranded motorist. Instead offer to call for assistance.
Regularly check electronic tracking and communications systems. If they're not working, notify dispatch as soon as possible.
Always let dispatch know if you're going to be late arriving at your destination.
Carry license numbers and other important identification you'll need for a stolen vehicle police report.
Federal regulations include special parking and attendance rules for vehicles carrying certain types of hazardous materials, but there are general security precautions that apply to everyone.
Whenever possible, park in secure lots. Look for good lighting and other security measures such as fences, surveillance cameras or security patrols. Choose areas where other truckers are present. Avoid dark roadways or deserted areas when waiting to make deliveries. Don't take your load home or park in unsecured areas such as parking lots or malls.
Drop trailers only in approved yards. If you have to drop a trailer in an emergency, try to find well-lit, high-traffic areas. Always check with your carrier before dropping a trailer.
Municipalities often restrict truck parking on busy streets or other public areas. "Abandoned" vehicles can quickly raise security concerns. If an emergency forces you to stop or leave a trailer for any length of time, contact local law enforcement immediately.
Don't leave a truck or trailer in a parking lot or other private facility without first obtaining permission from the owner or person in charge. Get the name of the person who gives you that permission. Make sure security guards or night managers know what's going on.
When parking, back your trailer up close to another trailer, a fence, pole or other obstruction that will make it harder for thieves to break inside and unload the contents. If your carrier provides king pin locks, make sure you know how to use them.
Keep your doors locked when you're in the tractor. When you leave the vehicle, shut off the engine, remove the keys from the ignition, close the windows and lock the doors. Never leave extra keys in the truck. Don't leave animals in open vehicles unattended.
Remember that your back will be turned as you climb out of the cab, so check outside before getting out. Carry and use a flashlight. Don't walk between parked tractors and trailers. Stay alert to your surroundings when walking. Frequently check behind you and to the sides. Be aware of places where someone might be hiding. Don't walk alone if you can avoid it. Don't carry too many things. If possible, keep your hands free. Have your keys out and ready when approaching your truck. Watch for people with spraying equipment and other possible contaminants.
Be courteous but not overly friendly to strangers. Remember that thieves often distract their victims by asking them for the time, for directions, or to light their cigarette.
After each stop do a quick walk-around to check your vehicle for foreign objects.
Seals and padlocks should be checked at the beginning of each trip, every time the vehicle is parked, and at the end of the trip. Each time a security check is done it should be noted in the driver's log. If seals or locks have been tampered with, call your company and local police.
Trust your instincts. If an area, situation or person doesn't seem right, it probably isn't.
at your destinationLook around the loading/unloading area for suspicious persons and for concealed areas where someone might hide. Keep your doors locked until exiting the vehicle. Report your arrival and location to dispatch.
Stay with the truck and observe unloading. Have a communications device with you at all times. Report any suspicious onlookers to the consignee, your company and/or the local police. If you leave the vehicle, turn it off and lock the doors.