Steve Russell, chairman & CEO of Indianapolis-based truckload carrier Celadon Group Inc. today testified before Congress that fingerprint-based background checks for hazmat drivers implemented June 1 by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are hurting the trucking industry. Russell spoke on behalf of the American Trucking Assns. before a subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security.

The prohibitively expensive screening process applies to materials that pose no security risks, Russell said. He argued that in many cases this process presents unreasonably negative impacts on costs to drivers and on carriers’ ability to recruit qualified drivers for relatively little security benefit. ATA said that the same process that applies to drivers hauling explosives applies to drivers hauling paint and nail polish.

“The costs to drivers and carriers are unacceptably high and serve as a disincentive to obtaining a hazmat endorsement,” Russell said. “It is easy to see why drivers are discouraged.”

Russell added that the program was implemented in an inconsistent manner across the states and is lacking in the number fingerprinting locations and hours of operation.

Trucks move more than 800,000 shipments of hazardous materials across the U.S. each day, with hazmat shipments accounting for 14.8 percent of all truck tonnage moved annually, ATA said.