Truckers Watch Out For Terrorists - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/28/05

Truckers Watch Out For Terrorists

While keeping their massive rigs between the white lines, a growing number of Americas truckers have taken up another task: Helping to keep the country safe from terrorist attacks.

"We're all over the country and everything, so we kind keep a watch over everything," says William Lemanski of Dallas. "There's things going on in the country. You never know what's going to happen and us being out here, we can help people."

The program is call Highway Watch . Sponsored by the American Trucking Association and funded with federal dollars, Highway Watch connects emergency and law enforcement responders, and state and federal intelligence agencies, with the formidable force of the nation's transportation professionals.

"My wife and I run team," says Rick Burge of Missouri. "We run Florida to California. We know where things are, certain truck stops, what to look for."

The aim is to train truckers to identify and report safety and security disturbances on the nation's roads.

"We keep our eyes open," says Wardell McGee of New Orleans. "Make sure everything's locked down and checked. Make sure the back of our truck is locked down and everything. Make sure we're aware of our surroundings."

Guarding their own rig is important. In the wrong hands, an 18-wheeler can become a weapon of mass destruction.

"Now days anything can be a weapon, right," says Keith McGee of Houston Tx.

A $21 million Homeland Security Department grant, which kicks in in March, will fund the continuation of Highway Watch.

The American Trucking Association says the program is already active in every state, but has room and plenty of reasons to grow.

by Don Culpepper

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