The Department of Homeland Security this week announced an additional $21 million grant, available for use beginning March 2005, for the American Trucking Assns.’ (ATA) Highway Watch program.

This cooperative agreement with the ATA will help to expand the Highway Watch program, which trains highway professionals to identify and report safety and security concerns on our nation's roads. The program will provide training and communications infrastructure to prepare hundreds of thousands of transportation professionals to respond in the event they or their cargo are the target of a terrorist attack and to share valuable intelligence with Homeland Security if they witness potential threats.
"America's truckers and other transportation workers are in a unique position to contribute to our homeland security," said C. Suzanne Mencer, executive director of the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Domestic Preparedness. "As they travel our nation's highways, they must be alert to a possible terrorist attack and know how to respond appropriately, how to take safety precautions, and how to report suspicious activity."
"We are honored to be on duty for America," said Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO. "It makes sense to have a plan that coordinates the efforts of the entire transportation sector to keep our highways safe and secure -- and to keep rolling. Otherwise, given the country's dependence on transportation, America stops."
Commercial truck and bus drivers, school bus drivers, highway maintenance crews, bridge and tunnel toll collectors and others will receive instruction under the Highway Watch grant. The program's primary goal is to prevent attacks by teaching highway professionals to avoid becoming a target for terrorists who would use large vehicles or hazardous cargoes as a weapon. A secondary goal is to train highway professionals to recognize and report suspicious activity.
The Highway Watch program will link these trained transportation professionals with first responders, law enforcement and the intelligence community via TSA's Transportation Security Operations Center (TSOC) in Herndon, Va.