SPECIAL REPORT: The 21st century truck stop - burger, fries, coke and fingerprints

| 3/9/2004

Drivers who haul hazmat shipments could be fingerprinted at truck stops across the country if the Transportation Security Administration accepts a program proposed by Natso, which represents about 1,100 truck stop and travel plaza facilities.

"Our goal is to make it easier on truckers," William Fay, Natso's president and CEO, told Land Line. "We're very patriotic, just like truckers, but we don't want to appear to be their Big Brother."

Fay said that within days, TSA would make a major announcement related to the fingerprinting of drivers.

Meanwhile, a January Natso press release says the group has been "meeting regularly with TSA leadership and trucking association executives about this issue." Fay confirmed discussions with TSA, saying he's been told by TSA officials, "We would like to see truck stops involved in the fingerprinting effort."

The cost to an owner-operator, according to Fay, would be less than $100. Natso will soon announce the location of a pilot program at a Pennsylvania stop where three employees have been trained to take the fingerprints and send them to FBI officials.

"I don't see this as a profit center - we'll make a little bit of profit," Fay told Land Line, even though a January press release quotes Fay as saying, "From an economic standpoint, this new profit center will bring increased foot-traffic and create an additional profit center to operators."

Meanwhile, Fay told Land Line, "You guys (OOIDA members) are our customers, and we want to keep you happy. We'll need a fee, and we want it to be enough to recover our costs."

Some history
The Patriot Act calls on the Department of Homeland Security to fingerprint the nation's hazmat drivers and provide those fingerprints to the FBI's national data bank. TSA, an agency within the Homeland Security Department, is slated to begin collecting fingerprints by April 2004, but TSA has not said whether it can meet the deadline.

Natso anticipates a partnership with the National Air Transportation Association and the trucking industry to establish truck stops and travel plazas as fingerprint collection points for truckers.

NATA is the national association of aviation business service providers. Its members provide on-demand air charter, fuel and ground services, aircraft maintenance and pilot training. NATA coordinated the fingerprinting of the nation's airport employees.

Under the proposed partnership, NATA will provide the technology required to fingerprint truckers, while Natso members would be paid a fee for each fingerprint collected from the nation's approximately 4 million to 10 million truckers.

--by Dick Larsen, senior editor

Dick Larsen can be reached at dick_larsen@landlinemag.com.