US Government begins checks on US Hazmat Truck Drivers; Canadian drivers currently exempt

by Canadian Shipper

WASHINGTON, D.C., and OTTAWA, Ontario.- The US government’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun the second phase of the Hazmat Threat Assessment Program yesterday with the fingerprinting of US commercial truck drivers applying to obtain a new hazardous materials endorsement (HME) on their state-issued commercial drivers license (CDL).

This rule currently does not apply to Canadian truck drivers and would not include drivers holding a Canadian CDL. This rule applies only to drivers who hold a CDL issued by a State of the United States.

“Our understanding is that the governments of Canada and the US continue to discuss how and when a security check will apply to Canadian drivers transporting hazardous materials across the international border," commented David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

"CTA has long advocated the use of a FAST card as the security mechanism for Canadian truck drivers. Security background checks for FAST cards include fingerprinting and criminal background checks in both countries; therefore, we believe the security process is as rigorous as TSA hazmat security checks. We remain hopeful that both TSA and the Canadian government will reach agreement on this issue to remove uncertainty over how the security process will apply to Canadian drivers," he said.

According to the most recent statement by TSA on this issue, during phase one, TSA conducted name-based security threat assessments on all 2.7 million hazmat drivers in the US to determine whether any presented a potential terrorist threat. Phase two augments this effort by adding a FBI fingerprint-based criminal history records check and immigration status check. The third and final phase of implementation begins May 31, 2005 when drivers, who currently hold Hazardous HMEs and wish to renew or transfer the HME, must undergo the fingerprint-based background check.

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