TSA TO BEGIN HAZMAT BACKGROUND CHECKS
Beginning in early September, truck drivers holding commercial driver’s licenses with hazardous materials endorsements will be disqualified to haul hazmat loads if they flunk standards set by the Transportation Security Administration. TSA’s security threat assessment, or background check, covers roughly 3.5 million drivers holding hazmat endorsements and includes a review of criminal, immigration and FBI records. Drivers seeking endorsements must submit fingerprints, which will be submitted to the FBI for a criminal history records check. TSA estimates the cost of capturing fingerprints at about $434 million over 10 years. (See “What will it cost?” on the next page)
TSA’s new interim final rule, which was published and took effect May 5, disqualifies any applicant with a conviction (military or civilian) for certain felonies over the past seven years – or who has been found mentally incompetent – from obtaining or renewing the hazmat endorsement. Drivers wanted, under indictment or recently incarcerated for those crimes would be disqualified as well. The checks will also verify that the driver is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident as required by the USA Patriot Act, which Congress adopted in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (For a list of offenses, see “What disqualifies a driver?” on page 16)
In announcing the rules, TSA was quick to stress that the disqualification only covered hazmat. Losing or failing to obtain hazmat endorsements will have no effect on drivers’ CDLs or on their ability to haul loads on which an endorsement is not needed.
Also, TSA’s initial ruling is not necessarily the final word. The rule establishes the conditions for appealing a determination that an individual is a security risk and the procedures TSA will follow when considering an appeal. TSA is also providing a waiver process for individuals who otherwise would be disqualified. Under current law, TSA cannot disclose to motor carriers or any other third party the reasons why a driver lost or could not obtain a hazmat endorsement.
Security threat assessment
Using means still to be determined, fingerprints will be collected and submitted to the FBI. The fee for submitting fingerprints will be collected when the prints are captured and then forwarded to the FBI, which will send results of the check to TSA. If the background records check does not reveal a disqualifying offense, TSA will notify the appropriate state.
If the search discloses an adverse report, however, TSA will investigate it to determine, among other things, if the record accurately corresponds to the applicant, or if an arrest subsequently resulted in a conviction. TSA will notify the individual and the state of the final outcome once this investigation is complete.
Normally, submission of fingerprints is necessary for gaining access to the criminal history databases for noncriminal justice purposes. However, due to the time it will take to develop a fingerprint collection infrastructure for 3.5 million hazardous materials endorsement holders, TSA has permission to obtain criminal history information based on names and other biographical data – provided that fingerprints are later gathered and submitted.
As of 120 days following the rule’s publication, any CDL holder who does not meet the security threat assessment standards is not authorized to hold or obtain a hazmat endorsement. TSA is conducting security threat assessments on individuals who currently hold hazardous materials endorsements, as well as drivers applying for new or transfer
|What will it cost?
Total over 10 years
(in millions of dollars)
|Nominal value||Present value|
|Checks required: 8.7 million drivers|
|Total direct costs||490||364|
|Total rule cost||633||470|
endorsements. This assessment will use names and biographical data contained in the Commercial Drivers License Information System. Some assessments will include entering names in the National Crime Information Center database, the Interstate Identification Index and other databases, such as terrorism watch lists.
If the name and biographical data search discloses that an individual does not meet the security threat assessment standards, TSA will notify the individual and the state. An individual wanting to dispute the results of the search must submit fingerprints or court records to back his case. If the individual does not contest the initial result or is not able to correct the record, TSA will notify the state to revoke or deny the endorsement.
If the name-based background check discloses that a driver is the subject of an outstanding felony want or warrant, TSA will ensure that the appropriate law enforcement agency is notified. Individuals whose name-based check indicates that they meet the security threat assessment standards must submit fingerprints between 180 days and five years from the effective date of the rule when applying for a new, renewed or transferred hazmat endorsement. A state may require fingerprint submission prior to the expiration of five years or on a more frequent basis than once every five years.
New and renewed endorsements
After 180 days following the rule’s publication, no state may issue, renew or transfer a hazardous materials endorsement unless TSA has determined that the individual does not pose a security threat.
Each state must notify individuals holding hazmat endorsements that they will be subject to a security threat assessment at least 180 days before the endorsement expires. Individuals may initiate the security threat assessment at any time after receiving the notice but no later than 90 days before the expiration date.
For the first 180 days the state requirements of this rule are in effect, a state may extend the expiration date of a hazmat endorsement until TSA has notified the state that an individual does or does not pose a security threat.
TSA requests comments from states and industry on this process. The agency said it understands that each state has a unique registration system and that there may be significant challenges to collecting fingerprints of all CDL drivers with hazardous materials endorsements. TSA vowed to work with all affected entities to develop an efficient and effective system.
Although the interim final rule took effect immediately, TSA is accepting comments until July 7. The interim final rules are available at http://dms.dot.gov/ by searching for docket numbers 11117 (FMCSA), 14982 (RSPA), and 14610 (TSA). Individuals and operators with questions about the new rule should contact TSA email@example.com.
What disqualifies a driver?
The Transportation Security Administration’s rule lists disqualifying crimes for
hazardous materials endorsements. Disqualifying crimes include acts of:
- Assault with intent to murder
- Kidnapping or hostage taking
- Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
- Immigration violations
- RICO violations
- Unlawful possession, use, sale,
distribution, or manufacture of an explosive, explosive device, firearm or other weapon.
- Distribution of, intent to distribute, possession, or importation of a controlled substance.
- Dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation, including identity fraud.
- Crimes involving a severe transportation security incident.
- Improper transportation of a
- Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these crimes.
Persons convicted of or incarcerated, wanted or under indictment for the crimes under certain time limits are disqualified. Also disqualified are people who are neither citizens nor permanent residents and those judged to be mentally defective.
John H. Hill has been named chief safety officer and assistant administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Hill has served with the Indiana State Police in various positions since 1974. Most recently, he was the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division Commander responsible for a division of 170 police and civilian personnel.
Swift Transportation reached an agreement to purchase Merit Distribution Services from grocery and food distributor McLane Co. for approximately $50 million. In a related development, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is selling McLane Company to Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Hei Yeng Kwok, owner of Chicago trucking company K&W Trading Co., was arrested May 14 on federal bribery charges for allegedly attempting to pay a $2,000 bribe, and later paying a $4,000 bribe, in an effort to change the company’s safety compliance rating. The company was ordered to cease all interstate trucking operations May 7.
Mayflower Transit LLC and United Van Lines LLC have asked FMCSA for exemptions to allow them to impose controlled substance and alcohol testing on their non-commercial driver’s license drivers using the same standards, forms and requirements, and in the same random testing pool, as their CDL drivers. Comments are due June 16. For more information, visit http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket No. 14911.
TSA TO TEST TRANSPORTATION WORKER ID
The Transportation Security Administration has taken its first major step toward developing an identification card for transportation workers who need unescorted access to secure areas of transportation facilities. TSA Administrator James Loy announced that a $3.8 million, 150-day contract was awarded to Reston, Va.-based Maximus Corp. to oversee the field testing of various technologies that will result in a universally recognized Transportation Workers Identification Credential.
When the TWIC program is implemented, it will create common credentials for more than 12 million employees working in trucking and other modes of transportation. Maximus will evaluate various technologies at transportation facilities at pilot sites in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California.
The program provides biometric standards to identify employees and is supposed to protect workers’ privacy by keeping limited information on the card and in central databases. In addition to biometric technologies, such as those to recognize fingerprints, eye patterns or voice, the TWIC will use technology familiar to the public, such as bar codes, magnetic stripes and digital photographs that work with current access control systems.
SYSTEM VERIFIES DRIVER I.D.
Jevic Transportation is using a new driver identification system that allows shippers and receivers to instantly verify a driver’s identification. The system developed by the Delanco, N.J.-based carrier combines a photograph of the driver, his I.D. number and a bar code. When the driver arrives, the customer scans the bar code or types in the driver I.D. number in the secure section of the Jevic website. This prompts a photograph of the driver to appear on the screen, allowing the customer to compare the badge photograph to Jevic’s file picture of the driver. The system will be combined with Jevic’s satellite cargo-tracking software.
CCJ EQUIPMENT DEMAND INDEX
Texas is for flats
In July, expect Texas to be a good source of spot-market flatbed freight. The latest CCJ Equipment Demand Index shows that in July 2002, Texas was No. 1 in demand for flatbed equipment in the spot market – a position it held for five consecutive months last year. Demand in Texas for flatbed equipment has grown over the past three years. Historical data shows that Texas worked its way up from No. 5 in 2000.
Illinois bumped Texas down to fifth position for the top spot in van demand. Data for the past three years shows that Illinois typically holds either first or second position for van demand in July.
California maintained the top position for reefer demand in July 2002 for the second consecutive month. Over the past three years, California has held first place for July reefer demand.
The index, based on equipment searches performed by TransCore customers, shows the top 15 states in terms of demand for trucks in the spot market in the three most common equipment types: dry vans, flatbeds and refrigerated units. The index is intended to help fleet operators identify the most promising opportunities for backhaul and other spot-market freight in the month after its publication.
VOLVO TRUCKS GETS NEW PRESIDENT
In October, Peter Karlsten will replace Michel Gigou, president and chief executive officer of Volvo Trucks North America, the company announced. Karlsten has been president of Volvo Trucks in Brazil since 2001. In Karlsten’s new position, he will report to Volvo Truck Corp. President Jorma Halonen.
Gigou became president and CEO of Volvo Trucks North America in 2001 following AB Volvo’s acquisition of Mack Trucks, which Gigou headed at the time. He will continue to serve as chairman of Mack Trucks until the end of 2003. He also will continue to be responsible through the end of the year for the common corporate functions that support Mack and Volvo.
SAFETEA: DOT SEEKS TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR OOS ABUSE
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s proposed legislation to reauthorize highway safety programs would sharply raise the monetary penalties for out-of-service violations. The proposal, called the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003, or SAFETEA, would also strengthen DOT’s hand in dealing with carriers or their officers with a history of avoiding compliance with safety regulations. In some of the key provisions, DOT asked that Congress:
- Double the penalties for recordkeeping violations that misrepresent a fact that constitutes a non-recordkeeping violation. Under DOT’s proposal, the maximum fine would be $1,000 a day, up to a maximum of $10,000. “Recordkeeping violations frequently have no other purpose than to conceal a safety violation, and they often succeed,” DOT said in its analysis.
- Sharply increase the penalties for violating out-of-service orders. Motor carriers knowingly ordering a driver to proceed despite an OOS order would be subject to fines of up to $25,000. An employer that knowingly and willfully ignores OOS orders is liable for imprisonment for up to a year or a fine of up to $100,000 if the violation did not result in death, or up to $250,000 if it did result in death, or both. DOT would increase the driver’s penalty for a first offense to a 180-day disqualification and a civil penalty of at least $2,500. For a second offense, the penalty grows to a two- to five-year disqualification and a civil penalty of up to $5,000.
- Establish a financial penalty against carriers and shippers that deny or impede the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s legitimate access to records.
- Require the registration of freight forwarders and brokers of household goods while allowing the elimination of registration of freight forwarders and brokers of property.
- Allow states to use Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program funds to enforce traffic laws and regulations against non-commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) when the behavior of drivers of smaller vehicles increases the risk of CMV accidents. This type of enforcement would not have to be combined with a CMV inspection, as is now required, DOT said.
- Require private motor carriers of passengers and property to meet the financial responsibility requirements covering public liability, property damage and environmental restoration.
- Require that the accident and inspection records of the intrastate operations of interstate motor carriers be considered when determining fitness. Moreover, DOT proposes that CMV owners and operators found unfit for interstate operations be prohibited from operating in intrastate commerce until they demonstrate fitness. “There is no good reason to allow an unfit interstate carrier to narrow its operations to a single state, and thus visit its safety deficiencies upon the residents of that state alone.”
- Give FMCSA officials authority to order trucks on the road to stop for inspection. DOT cited the opening of the Mexican border as expanding the role of federal inspectors in roadside enforcement.
- Authorize DOT to suspend or revoke the registration of a for-hire motor carrier if any of its officers has engaged in a pattern or practice of avoiding compliance, or concealing non-compliance, with federal motor carrier safety standards. DOT could also deny an application to register as a for-hire motor carrier if any of the proposed officers of the carrier has engaged in a pattern of non-compliance. The department said the provision is intended to give it authority to force out of the industry “those few motor carrier officers who have shown unusual and repeated disregard for safety compliance.” The authority likely would be used “only in the most serious cases,” DOT said.
- Increase funding for the “Share the Road Safely” program to make non-professional drivers aware of the design and handling limits of CMVs and to publicize a range of simple but effective steps they can take to avoid collisions with big trucks. The bill would authorize a similar program directed toward improving the situational awareness and defensive driving behaviors of CMV drivers.
The highway development portion of the proposed legislation includes authorization for pilot projects to establish commercial operations at new or existing interstate rest areas.
A copy of the proposal is available at this site.
SAFE FLEETS GARNER NPTC HONORS
The National Private Truck Council recognized member companies private truck fleets for their continued safe operations during the recent 2003 NPTC Annual Education Management Conference in St. Louis.
The NPTC-Bridgestone/Firestone Fleet of the Year Award is presented to those companies whose fleets experienced the lowest ratio of accidents per million miles for the past year. These awards are given for the entire fleet’s vehicle accident frequency rate, fleet size and operational category. The winners for 2003 are:
(fewer than 50 vehicles)
First Place: Barnes & Noble
(fewer than 50 vehicles)
First Place: Jerico Services Inc.
Second Place: Clinton’s Ditch
Coop Co. Inc.
(50 vehicles or more)
First Place: Milliken & Co.
Second Place: Advanced
Drainage Systems Inc.
Third Place: Flying J
(fewer than 50 vehicles)
First Place: George’s Foods LLC
Second Place: Cooper Tire &
Third Place: Yorktowne Inc.
(50 vehicles or more)
First Place: Dynegy
Midstream Services L.P.
Second Place: Russell Corp.
Other fleets with outstanding or improved safety records received certificates of achievement, merit and progress. For more information, visit this site.
U.S. DOT denies relief for Oregon farmers
U.S. Department of Transportation has denied a request by the Oregon Department of Transportation for exemptions from federal regulations concerning vehicle parts, accessories, inspection, repair and maintenance as they are applied to motor carriers certified by and registered with ODOT as farmers. ODOT said the exemptions would have little or no impact on highway safety.
But the U.S. DOT said granting the request would not achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety that would be achieved by complying with the federal regulations. Neither ODOT nor the persons submitting comments in support of the exemptions application presented specific alternatives that DOT could consider likely to achieve the requisite level of safety, DOT said.
For more information, visit this site and search Docket No. 13295.
NPTC RECOGNIZES PRIVATE FLEET PROFESSIONALS
The National Private Truck Council presented its F.L.E.E.T. (For Leadership, Enterprise, and Excellence in Trucking) Leadership Awards at the group’s annual meeting in St. Louis. The F.L.E.E.T. Awards are presented annually to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the NPTC, their profession and the private trucking community.
NPTC’s highest individual honor, the Private Fleet Executive of the Year, went to Roger Olds, general manager, trucking for Boise Cascade Corp. in Boise, Idaho. Elizabeth Miller, corporate DOT compliance coordinator for The Schwan Food Company, Marshall, Minn., was named Fleet Safety Professional of the Year. The Fleet Member of the Year Award went to Rick Foster, director, private fleet safety, Wal-Mart Transportation, Bentonville, Ark.
The Allied Member of the Year Award was presented to Michael Cancelliere, vice president, North American sales for the Truck Group, International Truck & Engine Corp. in Warrenville, Ill. The Membership Development Award this year went to William R. Foltz, corporate director of logistics, Foster Farms, Livingston, Calif.