New Port Security Law Tightens Trucker Regulations

The Safe Port Act signed into law by President Bush last week will have a significant impact on the trucking industry as well as shipping.

Fleet Owner reported on Monday that the legislation imposes stricter standards for the issuance of commercial driver licenses, or CDLs. Under the act's provisions holders of such licenses must be either U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents.

The legislation also strengthens anti-fraud measures for CDL programs and requires that all truckers visiting commercial ports undergo a background check prior to being given permission to work within the facility.

Within 90 days of the bill becoming law Oct. 13, the Department of Homeland Security must implement a threat assessment process for port truckers who don't have currently hold a hazardous materials endorsement. This process will include identity checks against terrorist watch lists and an immigration status check.

Holders of the so-called Hazmat licenses have been subjected to similar checks for two years.

The new legislation instructs the Department of Transportation to issue regulations that will require all CDL holders to demonstrate citizenship or legal presence and to tighten CDL standards, using fingerprinting or Social Security numbers to verify identities. The Secretary of Transportation must do this within 18 months of the bill's becoming law.