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Clamp Down on Private Vehicles

By Tedd McHenry

Thursday, September 27, 2001

Since Sept. 11 much welcome discussion has been focused on ways to increase commercial airline security, which has often been lacking. But there is another, equally frightening problem: the private vehicles that clog our highways and populate all of the countryside.

Private vehicles, which serve business and recreational drivers, encompass over 130,000,000 cars and over 80,000,000 private vehicles of other kinds driven by over 200,000,000 drivers who have licenses. Each of these vehicles could easily be transformed into a weapon of mass destruction if it were laden with explosives.

The sheer number of cars, trucks, and motorcycles tells only part of the story. Anyone who looks around his or her own neighborhood knows that security is often poor or, more often, nonexistent. Most neighborhoods have no check points or patrolling security officers. Worst of all, there is no requirement that cars and trucks be locked, and many are left open or are protected by locks that can be opened in a matter of seconds.

While on the highway, there are few restrictions upon drivers. Drivers simply hop in their cars, and away they go. Nobody knows who they are or where they're going. Nothing can be done to stop them from entering urban areas. As any driver knows, cars and trucks frequently wander into the wrong lane or blast through red lights, jeopardizing commercial or military vehicles.

All cars should be locked and secured. Larger neighborhoods should be fenced and have controlled entry. Ignition devices should be modified to eliminate the possibility of unauthorized use. Highways around larger cities should be further restricted to prohibit entry by such private vehicles. This may mean curtailing the mobility rights of private citizens at commercial establishments.

Such measures might make life more difficult for the auto industry. But if security experts continue to focus strictly on commercial transportation, we may find ourselves guilty, once again, of fighting the last war only to see ourselves outsmarted by a more creative foe.


As you might have guessed, the foregoing foolishness was written with tongue firmly in cheek. I wrote it in response to an equally foolish article which, sadly, was not tongue-in-cheek, but was actually mean to be taken seriously.

The original article, by Joseph A. Kinney, is no longer posted on the web, but it was published in the September 24, 2001 edition of the Washington Post. You can probably find it in the dead-tree edition at your local library.

You can also read AOPA's rebuttal to the original aritcle here.


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