TSA issues security warning about vehicle-ramming threat

(AP Photos)

(CBS) – The Transportation Security Administration has issued a new security alert warning the nation’s trucking companies and their drivers about the use of stolen trucks as low-tech methods of attack.

The six-page report was obtained by CBS News. It focuses on the current threat landscape and points out that from 2014 to date, terrorists have carried out 17 known vehicle-ramming attacks worldwide, resulting in 173 fatalities and 667 injuries.

According to CBS News, the TSA defines vehicle-ramming as a form of attack in which a perpetrator deliberately aims a motor vehicle at a target with the intent to inflict fatal injuries or significant property damage by striking with concussive force.

Last July, at least 84 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck plowed through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day. Hundreds of other pedestrians were injured that day.

Nice, France truck attack survivor: “It looked like a killing machine”

The nation’s largest police departments, including New York’s, have been focused on this security threat.

A top NYPD official said that it’s an issue the department focuses on every day.

The report shares indicators that may suggest terrorists are planning a vehicle-ramming attack and lists countermeasures that can be taken with a focus on meaningful security awareness. One of the messages contained in the report is the reinforcement to drivers, staff and passengers of the importance of the “See Something, Say Something” campaign.

The report suggests drivers and staff who remain alert to potential threats and report suspicious activities to appropriate authorities are the most effective means of detecting acts of terrorism by a commercial vehicle.

The report also states that no community, large or small, rural or urban, is immune to attacks of this kind by organized or “lone wolf” terrorists. TSA recommends that the trucking and bus industries take an active role in protecting their businesses and communities from this potential threat.

TSA’s surface transportation division works year-round on security issues with the trucking and bus industries.

The American Trucking Association issued the following statement to CBS News:

“There is no more dedicated, professional and patriotic group of people than truck drivers, so our industry is disturbed by the possibility that someone would use our vehicles as weapons.Much of what is in this TSA guidance – avoiding area of congestion due to special events, exercising awareness of suspicious activity and practicing common sense safety and security habits – are already hallmarks of industry best practices. The commercial trucking industry deploys significant security measures like vehicle tracking, alarms and specialized locks, as well as ongoing driver awareness training and driver vetting.”

In response to these new warnings, Jake Jacoby, the Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) president, said he supports the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to prevent attacks.

Jacoby issued the following statement:

“TRALA members realize they are often the first line of defense against a possible terror attack that could involve a commercial truck. We will continue to coordinate with public and private organizations in order to try and keep us all safe.”

The guidance from TSA, titled “Vehicle Ramming Attacks: Threat Landscape, Indicators and Countermeasures,” was also shared with bus companies as well as the school bus industry and highway and infrastructure specialists.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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