A bill would require
California trucks to carry a device to enable police or carriers to stop the
vehicles while in motion will not be considered until 2004.
The Senate Transportation Committee voted 7-2 in early July against the
measure, effectively killing it for the rest of this year, a spokeswoman for
the committee said. The
Assembly approved the bill June 3.
Howard Posner, a consultant
with California's Assembly Transportation Committee, told Land Line the
bill would be carried over into the new session of the General Assembly that
begins in January of 2004.
The backers of AB575 said the bill was designed to keep hazardous
materials out of the hands of terrorists.
It would have required trucks carrying flammable materials, radiological isotopes and a list of
other hazardous materials to have some kind of disconnect device – an external
mechanism that would either activate the brakes or cut off the fuel to the
engine. The device would have to be built in a way that would allow Highway
Patrol officers to activate it from the outside of the truck. AB575 also contained a requirement for GPS tracking
devices that would allow carriers to find a truck’s location at any time.
After the bill was defeated
in committee, its sponsors made several changes, Posner said. For example, the
definition of GPS was modified in the bill, so any kind of tracking system
could be used.
In addition, the list of
truck stopping devices that are acceptable under the bill was expanded.
“If there were some
hijack-deterrent technology that the Highway Patrol deems to be at least as
effective as remote stopping, that that would be acceptable as well,” Posner
said. “We’re just trying to make it as broad as possible.”
The Highway Patrol will make
the call as to what types of technologies will be acceptable. The
law-enforcement agency is “testing various remote-stopping technologies,”
As the process of refining
the bill moves forward, he said, California officials plan to consult with
people in the trucking industry about the bill and the technologies that might
When the bill first
came to light, it raised concerns in the industry. Especially of concern was
the thought that a terrorist could use the very device intended to stop them
and instead take control of the truck.
“If you wanted to
provide a blueprint for destruction to terrorists,” Todd Spencer, executive
vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said,
“this would be the way you would do it.”
--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor
Reddig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.