How Safe Are Freight Shippers?

How Safe Are Freight Shippers?

November 21, 2010 - Mark Etinger

We all know about the possible threats of terrorism on airplanes, but no one seems to be doing much for airplane freight shippers. With such a lack of security, terrorists can easily mail a bomb and someone already did! Last month there was an al-Qaeda mail bomb plot that almost went through unnoticed. Two packages with explosives were shipped from Yemen through UPS and FedEx. How did we catch it? We got a tip from Saudi intelligence.

The explosives were hidden in printer cartridges and never went through an X-ray machine. The lack of security is mind boggling and Washington agrees. The Obama administration acted quickly by banning all freight out of Yemen and Somalia. Although it was a smart decision, it still doesn't solve the problem that air cargo security is practically nonexistent. Congress will meet in mid-November to further discuss the issue.

Drastic changes for freight shippers is unlikely though. The Transportation Security Administration already dealt with this problem back in 2004. The Cargo Airline Association decided that the amount of money and time needed to screen all packages would significantly slow down the freight business and even damage the economy. They also stated there is no real terrorist threat for cargo shipments. Shipping companies and the government agreed and they will accept packages from anyone anywhere in the world, including unknown shippers.

If that isn't scary enough, any U.S.-bound international passenger or cargo flight isn't required to screen their packages. Despite bombings in the 1970's and 1980's, the government still refused to bump up air cargo security. You would think people would want more security, especially after 9/11; but in 2007, dozens of businesses banded together to fight against package inspection. They claimed it would be an "unachievable standard."

This past August, a law was put into effect requiring all cargo on U.S passenger flights needs to be screened. Freight shippers were not happy and spent a lot of time and money lobbying against it. Although the law does not have to be followed by U.S.-bound flights, TSA said it would work with other countries to help mandate screening requirements. Freight shippers were actually on par with this decision.

We all want safety to be the number one priority, but many businesses have a lot to lose if all cargo must be carefully inspected. The National Funeral Directors Association worries that there would be significant delays for shipping human remains. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums fears for the safety of animals being shipped and for those who would have to inspect them.

People want to feel safe but no one wants to take the time or spend the money to ensure it. Unfortunately, people always want something for nothing. Hopefully Congress will make the right decision and keep people and freight shippers out of harm's way. has over 23 years of experience crafting logistic solutions for freight shippers and suppliers. Visit us online to request a free freight quote today!

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