Its plan to recruit plumbers, utility workers, and cable technicians as informants went down in flames, but the government's Highway Watch program for truck drivers has been a runaway success. In fact, the program, which solicits the help of truckers to report security and safety threats on the nation's roads, recently got a boost in the form of an $11.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Highway Watch program, which the department sponsors jointly with the American Trucking Associations, has already trained more than 625,000 members. To join, participants complete a short training program that raises their awareness about terrorism, shows them how terrorists operate, and teaches them to recognize and report unusual behavior. Training also covers safety topics, such as reporting accidents, disabled vehicles, and other road hazards. The program now receives around 200 security and safety reports a month.
In announcing the grant, DHS Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson said the Highway Watch monies will be used to recruit and train "truckers and other highway professionals to identify and report security and safety situations on our nation's roads. These grants will help to protect our nation's critical infrastructure from threats and hazards that could cause major loss of life, economic impact, and disruption of services."