Safer to drive?

// Posted by on 02/17/2013 (10:20 PM)

Post 9/11 a lot changed about the airport security. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was set up to strengthen the security of transportation systems, which is evident in many airports where there was a large increase in security checks before even going into the different gates. New technologies are used, for example instead of the metal detectors there are now the large scanners which make a full body scan of you in order to check if you do not have any metal on you. Also, before going into the airport attendants check your passport and picture, and nowadays they also often ask for your fingerprints.

Coming from Europe myself, it is always interesting coming into the United States from outside. One has to go to immigration where they take your fingerprints, take a picture with a webcam and ask question about your destination and aim of your trip. If they even think you are not serious and joking around, they might take you back into a small investigation room. In Europe people do not have to take off their shoes for security and they only make use of a metal detector and X-ray machine for hand luggage, there are attendants who ask you a few questions whether you packed your own luggage and if you did not receive anything from someone and then you go on to the gate.

So, do these security measures make us safer or is it too exaggerated? Also, why do security procedures differ per country, is there a different threat of terrorism?

An interesting point in an article in Businessweek was that airport security actually makes people less safe. Many Americans decide to drive for their family holidays instead of flying, this has increased after the security procedures increased post 9/11. Even though the procedures changed because of the fear of terrorist attacks, researchers showed that the chance that the death of an American citizen is because of a terrorist attack is 1 in 3.5 million. So, people did not want to go through the hassle of airport security however it does not even have to be such of an hassle as that the TSA made it.

Something to think about, are the technologies good enough to find all suspicious objects, like bomb(parts) and is the full body scan really better than the old school metal detector, or is it just slowing down the security checks?  Why do I, as European, have to give my fingerprints every time, is it not better to save all the information in a worldwide database?  What do you think?

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Celia said...

I think the security advances are necessary, especially in a large nation like the US. Wanting to know who is entering and exiting your home makes a lot of sense – you wouldn’t open your door to a total stranger without asking the purpose of their visit, right? The same thing applies on a national scale. If there’s anything history teaches, it’s that patterns are cyclical and nations are contested. I see your point about redundancies in certain technologies, but if you knowingly loosen your security on a person’s say, third visit, then all it would take a terrorist would be a few peaceful visits before he/she could bring tragedy. This is not to say that only international visitors are dangerous; even traveling domestically within the US is far more secure than other nations’ domestic travel policies. In Australia you don’t need any form of identification to travel domestically, even if you are an international visitor. The thought of those sort of relaxed laws in the US would facilitate the movement of illegal goods and criminals far too easily.

// 02/18/2013 at 5:17 pm

Patrick said...

I agree with Celia the threat of a possible terrorist attack is of utmost importance in protecting our country. While it is still being debated that full body scanners are to invasive, it seems like there are no less invasive ways to keep our country save. It is a necessary evil, if it can save the lives of american citizens and help protect this nation I feel that there is no harm in the added security.

// 02/18/2013 at 6:43 pm

Andrew said...

In my opinion, with great threats comes greater security measures. The United States amped up their security in the wake of the biggest terrorist attack in our history. If they were to suddenly relax the regulations, that would potentially welcome a whole slew of repercussions. That’s not to say that shoe and sweater removal need to be required for all time. However, I feel that once we’ve added security measures to an airport it is very hard to go back without facing both security threats and criticism from those who fear for airline safety. After all, I’d rather have to go through a few extra steps at the airport in order to know that my flight will be as safe as possible.

Now, regarding the slip-ups by the TSA. The causes of those problems are a combination of both technological and human error. With more advanced (and sensitive) scanners and more astute/better trained TSA agents, situations like those would rarely make the news. I think the regulations, strict as they are, need to stay the same, but the enforcers of those regulations must be up to the challenge to uphold them responsibly…

…or else more regulations will be on their way.

// 02/18/2013 at 10:24 pm

Jorien said...

I agree that there should be good security checks before going into airports. Especially after hearing about mistakes, that those guns actually got through the scanners and on board of the plane. However, with all the new technologies nowadats, I there there must be a way to check everyone thoroughly without making them take their jackets and shoes off. Also, Celia I agree with you that countries should secure their border for outsiders, I did not mean to say that the security checks should become more lenient if you come into the country more often, I just think countries should maybe have an universal way in doing it so that everybody knows what to expect. Also, if you do have to give electronic fingerprints etc, why can they not safe those so with one finger they already know you are the person you say you are… However, with different threats around the world I do think everyone should be checked thoroughly and get more well trained TSA agents like Andrew said.

// 02/19/2013 at 12:19 am