Spencer tells feds to eliminate redundant background checks

| 6/16/2006

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security in Washington, DC, Friday, June 16. He spoke in support of two initiatives that will simplify background checks for hazmat truckers.

In his testimony before the committee, Spencer said the Transportation Security Administration’s current security threat process is “wrought with inefficiencies” and it is “an overreaching solution to a problem that has not been fully identified, and for which truckers are saddled with unnecessary burdens and expenses.”

Spencer cited a number of flaws with the current hazmat background check system, including excessive out-of-pocket costs, a shortage of facilities, a lack of truck parking and the amount of time needed to get results.

Spencer told the committee that OOIDA supports narrowing TSA’s program to focus more on the security of sensitive hazardous materials, rather than on all hazardous materials.

To that end, Spencer spoke out in support of HR5604 – the Screening Applied Fairly and Equitably to Truckers Act, or SAFE Truckers Act of 2006. Click here to read the act.

The goal of the bill is to eliminate overlapping background checks from different federal agencies and to focus more on hazardous materials that have been deemed security sensitive.

“This legislation outlines a bold effort that is needed to bring common sense back into homeland security policies that apply to American truck drivers,” Spencer said.

Spencer also spoke out in support of HR5560, the Professional Driver Background Check Efficiency Act of 2006. That bill would set a $50 maximum charge per individual for hazmat endorsements.

It also has a provision to eliminate redundant background checks from multiple government agencies.

OOIDA issued a National Call to Action for its members and other truckers to voice their support for HR5560, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-MO. To read the Call to Action and details about HR5660, click here.

Spencer said it is important that the Homeland Security Department recognize the vulnerability and need for security for all trucks on the road.

“We have long said that in the many areas where there is insufficient truck parking, truckers are forced to improvise by finding parking on on-ramps, exit ramps, the side of the road and out-of-the-way industrial areas that close for the night,” he said. “Terrorists are not going to get a CDL and a security sensitive hazmat permit if such vehicles are sitting ducks in so many places in the country.”

– By Terry Scruton, senior writer