Fuel Smarts

Pennsylvania To Implement Increased License Security

February 04, 2002

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It looks like Pennsylvania will be a step ahead of many other states in implementing a new federal law requiring security checks and fingerprinting of hazmat drivers.

Gov. Mark Schweiker announced in his February radio address that several steps are being taken to enhance driver's license security. Most significantly, he has directed the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to conduct criminal history checks and fingerprint all truck drivers who are issued a hazardous materials endorsement on their commercial driver's license. In his radio address, he said this was consistent with the requirements of the U.S. Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act, passed last fall, had many state licensing officials throwing up their hands. Some said they would stop issuing hazmat endorsements at all because they did not have systems in place to comply with the new law. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stepped in and issued an interpretation saying the law would not take effect until the agency wrote specific regulations. Since then, the FMCSA has been working closely with state officials to develop workable rules. Those regulations are expected to be released within the next two weeks and go into effect sometime in May.
In addition, Schweiker, said, he ordered the DOT to:
  • implement more random inspections of hazardous materials trucks;
  • work with the General Assembly to create stiffer penalties for identity fraud;
  • closely scrutinize immigration documents of non-U.S. citizens to guarantee validity;
  • ensure that expiration dates for non-U.S. citizen driver's licenses will expire on the same day their immigration visa does; and
  • work closely with states across the country to improve and standardize driver's licenses and ID card procedures.

"A license isn't just a card we hand to a police officer during a traffic stop," Schweiker said. "Let's face it, these 2-inch-by-3-inch cards are not just pieces of plastic we keep in our wallet. They are about people, they are about identification, and even more so they are about security."

For more on new hazmat licensing regulations, see the March issue of RoadStar or Heavy Duty Trucking magazine.

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