News

| January 03, 2006

Groups air hazmat regulation concerns before congressional committe
Affected groups told a congressional committee on hazmat trucking security reform that both the current system and proposed changes are cumbersome and some believe not especially secure.

Michael Laizure, a Washington hazmat trucker, testified on behalf of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association before a House Homeland Security subcommittee in November.

“The chief complaints that OOIDA hears from drivers about the present system is the shortage of facilities, available times of operation for the facilities and the amount of time necessary to get results,” Laizure said.

The Transportation Security Administration should use the intensive background checks on truckers already in use by other federal agencies and have one database for drivers with security sensitive clearance, he said.

OOIDA believes the TSA lacks sufficient access to information to do equivalent checks on non-U.S. drivers, he added.

Finally, instead of the current proposal to require GPS tags on hazmat trucks, federal officials should monitor the load itself, Laizure noted.

Linda Lewis-Pickett, who heads the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, also noted existing burdens on truckers and state officials. Montana truckers must drive as much as 200 miles to apply for a threat assessment, while Virginia officials have to contact other states to verify if a driver transferring to the state has received a previous threat assessment.

The AAMVA is concerned about the proposed two-tier commercial driver credentialing system, which provides hazmat drivers with a pocket card.

This two-tier system is meant to differentiate between commercial drivers hauling very hazardous materials and those transporting materials considered less hazardous.

It is difficult to tie a driver to the shipment carried, and administration costs are considerable, she said. “Most DMVs do not know what types of hazardous loads a driver would be required to transport and therefore, would not be in a position to adequately inform drivers which clearance process they would need to undergo,” Lewis-Pickett stated.

The pocket card proposal concerns AAMVA members because possible document fraud, the lack of a secure issuance process and administrative resources. If this program goes forward with pocket cards, the association wants the TSA or the Department of Homeland Security to be responsible for program implementation.

Steve Russell, chief executive officer of the Celadon Group, testified for the American Trucking Associations that hazmat background check costs are deterring drivers from getting the endorsement.

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