Trucking groups, including the American Trucking Associations, National Tank Truck Carriers, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association thanked the leaders of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for introducing legislation to improve the efficiency and security of the trucking industry by moving the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program closer to a “one-stop shop” for security clearances.

“As it stands now, professional truck drivers are still subject to a number of duplicative background checks and other hurdles in order to move America’s most hazardous freight and access sensitive areas of the supply chain,” said Chris Spear, ATA president and chief executive officer. “We appreciate the efforts of Senators Thune, Nelson, Fischer and Booker for recognizing that while some scrutiny is necessary, we should look to make the process simpler and less redundant for drivers. We thank them for including these necessary reforms to the TWIC program in this important legislation. This bill is a good first step toward improving the credentialing process, and we look forward to working with the committee as it moves forward.”

The bill, called the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act, would address a number of issues within Transportation Security Administration, but of particular interest to trucking groups is the inclusion of provisions aimed at surface transportation issues including: development of a surface transportation advisory committee; a complete assessment of the TWIC program as well as language allowing TWIC holders to obtain their hazmat endorsement without the need for additional background checks--long an issue supported by ATA.

“When I testified before this committee last year, I raised concerns about the credentialing process,” Spear said. “The trucking industry appreciates that the members of the committee heard those concerns, took them seriously, and have introduced legislation aimed at addressing them.”

In addition to ATA, the bill has the support of other trucking groups including the National Tank Truck Carriers and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“The area of surface transportation security is one that has been overdue for an overhaul,” said NTTC President Dan Furth. “Our members move freight that is among the most tightly security-regulated commodities, so if we can ease the burden of duplicative security screenings on our drivers, we can improve the security and efficiency of our industry. We thank these senators for their efforts to reduce the burden of these overlapping background checks on our drivers while still working to keep our supply chain secure.”

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said: “No group is more concerned with transportation security than the truckers moving the cargo. For too long, these hard working men and women have been frustrated with the bureaucracy and costs of duplicative and redundant background checks. “They deserve a better system. While there is much more that needs to be accomplished, the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act is a significant step in the right direction.”