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In March of 2005 the American Trucking Association (ATA) will receive a $21 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to expand the Highway Watch Program. ATA will dispense the funds to the states to further support the program, which trains highway professionals to identify and report safety and security concerns on the nation?s roads. In March of this year the Oklahoma Trucking Association received $200,000 for the Highway Watch Program and officials are expecting to receive a portion of the 2005 funds.

The Highway Watch Program provides 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 detect 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.?

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 program. 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 cargo as a weapon. A secondary goal is to train highway professionals to recognize and report suspicious activity.

The Highway Watch program will link these well trained transportation professionals with first responders, law enforcement and the intelligence community via the Transportation Security Administration?s (TSA) Operations Center in Herndon, VA.

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