Alliance urges Canadian hazmat drivers to expedite enrollment in FAST program
Jul 1, 2006 12:00 PM
It's taken five years of perseverance and a whole lot of frustration, but the Canadian Trucking Alliance is hoping that soon it will have confirmation that its proposed solution to United States hazardous material background check requirements will be formally adopted.
Shortly after the events of Sept 11, 2001, the United States passed the Patriot Act, a sweeping piece of legislation designed to prevent further terrorist acts from occurring on US soil. An important component of the law is the need for security checks on commercial truck drivers moving hazardous materials. A regulation made pursuant to the Patriot Act established a process whereby US drivers either applying for or renewing a hazmat endorsement on a state-issued driver license would be required to undergo a background security check. A phase-in of the process for US drivers began in May 2005; Canadian drivers have until Aug 10, 2006, to comply.
The problem for Canadian carriers and drivers is that neither the Patriot Act nor the regulation outlined how foreign drivers moving hazardous materials can comply with the background check requirement. To break the impasse — and knowing that the US trucking industry will not tolerate its drivers having to meet requirements that Canadian drivers do not — CTA proposed that Canadian drivers use their FAST (Free and Secure Trade) commercial driver cards as evidence of having undergone security checks.
Now, almost five years since CTA first made the proposal, the United States appears about to make a final decision. According to a statement issued by Transport Canada: “It is expected that, on an interim basis, the FAST commercial driver card will be accepted as proof that drivers registered to operate in Canada have met the new US requirements. In addition, it is expected that this interim solution will also apply to drivers hauling explosives into and throughout the United States, instead of the TC-ERD drivers list (a process jointly operated by Transport Canada and NRCAN to permit Canadian driver compliance with the US Safe Explosives Act.)
“In order to meet the Aug 10, 2006 deadline, it is strongly recommended that dangerous goods drivers licenced in Canada apply as soon as possible to allow for adequate processing time of a potentially large number of new FAST applicants.”
With the deadline looming, and four to six weeks' processing time required to obtain a card, CTA is urging carriers to follow Transport Canada's advice and have hazmat drivers enrolled in the FAST program.
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