The Safe Port Act signed into law by President George W. Bush on Friday contains trucking provisions that tighten guidelines and processes for law enforcement to verify legal commercial vehicle traffic. It also ensures that commercial driver license (CDL) holders have citizenship or legal presence, bolsters antifraud measures for CDL programs and requires that all port truckers undergo a background check.
Perhaps the most immediate effect the bill will have on trucking is that it requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to implement a threat assessment process within 90 days of Oct. 13 for port truckers who don’t have a hazardous materials endorsement. This would include name-based checks against terrorist watch lists and an immigration status check.
The bill directs the Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations that would require all CDL holders demonstrate citizenship or legal presence, as recommended by the DOT Inspector General in a June 4, 2004 memorandum. The bill directs the Secretary of Transportation to implement the recommendations in that memorandum to tighten CDL standards, which includes a requirement to verify social security numbers or use fingerprinting. The Secretary of Transportation must do this within 18 months.
The bill seeks to strengthen antifraud programs for CDLs by directing the states to track down suspect CDL holders and for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to impose sanctions on states that fail to establish adequate fraud control measures for their CDL programs. Those measures were recommendations issued by the DOT Inspector General on Feb. 7, 2006, and the Secretary of Transportation is required to implement them within 18 months.
The bill takes a two-tiered approach to verifying that all motor carriers are more effectively verified to be in compliance with DOT regulations. It requires that guidelines be drafted for commercial vehicle enforcement officials to identify carriers engaged in cross-border traffic that are in noncompliance. It also requires the establishment of a system or process that identifies a motor carrier’s operating authority during a roadside inspection. The bill directs the Secretary of Transportation to perform these measures within 18 months.
To view the bill, H.R. 4954, go to http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_bills&docid=f:h4954enr.txt.pdf
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