Safe Port Act has trucking implications

The Safe Port Act signed into law by President Bush this fall contains trucking provisions that tighten guidelines and processes for law enforcement to verify legal commercial vehicle traffic. It also ensures that CDL holders have citizenship or legal presence, bolsters antifraud measures for CDL programs and requires that all port truckers undergo background checks. Perhaps the most immediate effect

The Safe Port Act signed into law by President Bush this fall contains trucking provisions that tighten guidelines and processes for law enforcement to verify legal commercial vehicle traffic. It also ensures that CDL holders have citizenship or legal presence, bolsters antifraud measures for CDL programs and requires that all port truckers undergo background checks.

Perhaps the most immediate effect the bill will have on trucking is that it requires the Sec. of Homeland Security to implement a threat assessment process by January 11, 2007, for port truckers who don't have a hazardous-materials endorsements.

The bill directs the Sec. of Transportation to issue regulations that would require all CDL holders to demonstrate citizenship or legal presence, as well as implement previous recommendations to tighten CDL standards through verification of social security numbers or fingerprinting.

The Safe Port Act also seeks to strengthen antifraud programs for CDLs by directing states to track down suspect CDL holders. In addition, the FMCSA is required to impose sanctions on states that fail to establish adequate fraud control measures.

The bill takes a two-tiered approach to verifying that carriers are in compliance with DOT regulations. First, guidelines must be drafted for commercial vehicle enforcement officials to use in identifying carriers engaged in cross-border traffic that are in noncompliance. Second, a process must be established for identifying a carrier's operating authority during a roadside inspection.

These measures must be taken within 18 months.

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