Canadian carriers and truck drivers can temporarily breathe a sigh of relief now that the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has extended the Feb 10, 2006, deadline for background checks of foreign drivers of hazardous materials until Aug 10, 2006.
The requirement is being phased in for United States hazmat drivers, who must pass a background security check before obtaining or renewing their hazmat endorsements on their commercial driver licenses (CDLs). A similar endorsement for Canadian hazmat truck drivers is problematic: unlike in the United States, Canadian drivers are not required to have a hazmat endorsement on their CDLs.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) had proposed the FAST (Free and Secure Trade) driver card as a means to allow foreign driver compliance with the background check requirement for hazmat drivers. FAST applicants must also be fingerprinted and have background checks performed and approved by the United States and Canada. A system to process FAST cards is already in place, and more than 50,000 have been issued.
TSA is expected to make a further announcement regarding the use of the FAST driver card as a means for foreign hazmat drivers to meet its requirement.