OOIDA supports bill to improve HME background checks

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association announced its support for a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that limits the amount professional truck drivers can be charged for the background check required to haul hazardous materials. The bill also directs the Transportation Security Administration to improve the efficiency of such checks to eliminate redundancy and lost time and income of professional drivers.

Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., introduced the Professional Driver Background Check Efficiency Act of 2006 (HR5560) that caps the amount professional truck drivers can be charged for the Hazardous Material Endorsement at $50 per individual. The legislation also stipulates that professional drivers who already have undergone background checks to receive an HME will not be subject to an additional check to receive a Transportation Worker Identification Credential card or be required to pay the approximately $105 to $139 fee for this additional check.

“We are very pleased with this commonsense piece of legislation,” says Jim Johnston, OOIDA president and chief executive officer. “While professional truck drivers are among those who are most concerned with security in transportation, the scatter-shot approach to security taken so far has left them extremely frustrated.”

HR5560 also calls for a study and recommendations to Congress on ways to eliminate the redundancy and inefficiency of additional background checks for professional drivers required by other federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.

“You can make the case that a driver should pay a reasonable fee to have a background check, but how many times should you be expected to pay that fee and additional ones that bureaucrats dream up?” Johnston asks. “We have at least one member who has undergone a half dozen background checks for different government agencies, not counting the HME endorsement that comes when he renews his current license. Not only do drivers get charged higher and higher fees for these, but they also have substantial out-of-pocket costs and lost income from the time off work. It only makes sense for federal agencies to coordinate their efforts to minimize the cost and improve efficiency.”