Drivers applying for or renewing a commercial driver’s license in Georgia soon will be required to complete safety and security training in the Highway Watch program before they can get their license. The new law, the first of its kind, applies to CDLs that expire on or after July 1. The training is a one-time-only requirement and is available at no cost to the CDL holder.
Begun in 1998 and now funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Highway Watch program includes both safety awareness and anti-terrorism training. The one-hour program can be completed through live classes, DVDs, VHS tapes and audio CDs. After completing the training, Georgia drivers will receive a Highway Watch Identification Card that must be presented to the Department of Driver Services when applying for an initial CDL or upon renewal.
“This legislation is the first of its kind,” says Ed Crowell, president of the Georgia Motor Trucking Association. “I applaud Governor (Sonny) Perdue and the Georgia Legislature for this commitment to keeping the people of our state and nation safe and secure.”
Once trained, Highway Watch participants can contact emergency personnel through a special telephone hotline, providing emergency responders with precise location and incident information. Once the caller’s Highway Watch ID number is verified, the call is routed to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
In addition to the required training, the Transportation Security Administration must confirm that any individual renewing, upgrading or transferring a CDL with a hazmat endorsement does not pose a security risk.
The Georgia law also includes new consequences for violating an out-of-service order. Hazmat haulers or drivers with an endorsement to transport more than 15 passengers will have their license suspended for six months to two years if they are found in violation of an out-of-service order. Another violation within 10 years will result in a three- to five-year suspension.
Training materials for the Highway Watch program and more information are available by calling the Georgia Motor Trucking Association at 770-444-9771 or by going to www.highwaywatch.com or www.gmta.org.