Posted by: Jeff Rhodes | February 22, 2010

File a Drive Plan

Authorities report that he did not file a flight plan…

I get up in the morning, brush my teeth and dress.  I kiss my wife and kids goodbye and head to my home computer.  I log on to the National Ground Transportation Security Administration (NGTSA) website with my US DOT –issued driver’s license number and password.  I review about 17 pages of text to determine if there are any areas between my house and work that the government has deemed a restricted security area, closing down any roads today.  I would face the loss of my license and seizure of my car, if I accidently strayed onto a closed road.

Seeing none, I click on “File A Drive Plan.”  I enter my name, phone number, vehicle description, license plate number, departure time, the address of my destination, and the roads I plan to take to get there this morning.  I click “Enter Intermediate Destination” and type the name and address of the gas station where I plan to stop for a fill-up and a cup of coffee, and the approximate length of time I plan to be stopped there.  I review the page to ensure that all the required fields are filled.  I click “Submit Drive Plan” and the document is uploaded to the Ground Transportation Security Administration.  After about five minutes, I receive an email confirmation that my drive plan has been approved.

I log back on to the NGTSA system and click on “File Passenger Manifest.”  Because I am driving to work alone today I enter my drive plan confirmation number and then click “No Passengers.”  If today were my day to take my son to school, I would have had to enter his name, social security number, and birth date, so he could be checked against the Federal “No Ride List” for security purposes.   Of course I would have also had to file his school as an Intermediate Destination on the original Drive Plan.

Finished filing the paperwork, I pick up my briefcase and jacket and hit the road – well, almost.  When I get to my car, I pick up my cell phone and dial the 800 number for the State Patrol.  I go through the automated menu, enter my Drive Plan Number and password – for security – and press “2” for “Begin A Trip.”  This alerts the highway authorities that I will be entering the highway system and will alert search and rescue authorities, should I not make my Intermediate Stops and my Final Destination within the prescribed timeframe.  It’s for my safety and for national security.

Sound ridiculous?  It should.  But it is almost exactly what I believe the TSA wants for pilots flying their own small private airplanes – for the sake of security.  The freedom to move about the country is uniquely American.  We drive our cars, sail our boats, ride our bikes, and fly our airplanes where we want and when we want.  We don’t have to tell anyone where we are going or when we will get there.  We WILL NOT give up this freedom because some nut decides that he wants to crash his car into the front window of a 7-Eleven and we WILL NOT give it up because some other nut decides to crash his airplane into an office building.  Part of living in a free society is that there may be no way to stop a criminal intent on doing harm.  But freedom is worth the small risk.  We should never sacrifice the freedom of millions of citizens (or even one) in a non-solvent attempt at security.

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