The House Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing today to release the SAFE Truckers Act (H.R. 5604), a bipartisan bill intended to improve the security of the trucking system. A press release by bill co-sponsor Jane Harman summarizes the intent of the bill:
â€œThe successful movement of goods by truck is vital to the American economy, but it presents a soft underbelly in our homeland security efforts,â€ Harman said. â€œWe need to focus our limited resources on where we are vulnerable, and that means knowing who is behind the wheel of a big-rig with dangerous materials.â€
The SAFE Truckers Act calls for fingerprint-based background checks for a limited list of drivers handling security sensitive materials (SSMAT). It also requires the Transportation Security Administration to issue SSMAT documentation together with the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, helping streamline security credentials for workers. The new bill also calls for verification of all transportation documents and civil penalties on shippers failing to do so.
This is a good bill, smartly focusing resources on the trucks that pose the greatest threat, and establishing civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance, while at the same time removing some of the burden on trucks that pose a low threat. Hopefully this bill will get some traction in Congress; perhaps it could be attached to related transportation security legislation (e.g. S. 2459 or S. 2791) currently moving forward in Congress.
Update (6/22): The prepared statements from the hearing are now available online: