New requirements for driver background checks will add to the already heavy burden in recruiting and retaining qualified drivers, says Cliff Harvison, National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) president.
Harvison referred to the approximately 3.5 million commercial drivers with hazardous material endorsements, as well as new applicants, who now will be required to undergo a routine background records check. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued the interim rule that became effective May 5.
"Naturally, NTTC is disappointed that the new rules don't cover all holders of commercial driver licenses (CDLs)," Harvison says. "I can understand the reasons in terms of the volume of individuals that might be impacted, but the reality is that tank truck carriers will face new challenges in terms of attracting and retaining drivers. Existing holders of hazmat endorsements might determine that the requirements and fees for the fingerprinting and background checks just aren't worth the hassle, and look elsewhere for employment."
"Frankly, while the new regulations are termed interim by TSA, I view them more as transitional," Harvison says. "It's clear that TSA is kick-starting the process with a so-called name-based system. However, it's also clear that they want to move to a fingerprint-based system as quickly as possible. Also, I'm surprised that, with the exception of drivers involved in transportation of explosives, there's no mention of the applicability of the regulations to Canadian nationals. Authorities in Canada have held that criminal background checks infringe on a Canadian's civil liberties. There might be a huge problem, here."
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