The Transport Security Administration (TSA) has appoved Nashville, TN-based Integrated Biometric Technology (IBT) to be the primary vendor to collect data required by the agency’s fingerprint checks for transfer and renewal applicants for HazMat CDL endorsement.

Charles R. Carroll, vice chairman & CEO of IBT, said 34 states will allow the company to set up collection sites to obtain fingerprints and electronically transfer the prints to the TSA, which would in turn transfer the prints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Additionally, IBT is responsible for arranging a call center that would set up fingerprint collection appointments and provide status reports, take electronic applications and provide payment processing.

“We guarantee that the people and the technology collecting the prints will be ready by Jan. 31,” Carroll told Fleet Owner. “We will be ready to go with all the equipment in place, and we will add additional sites. We’re required to have at least one capture device per state for the first-time HazMat drivers. We have until May to be fully operational to handling applicants for renewals, which will be a larger number of applicants.”

There is no specific price point available for the total processing fee, Carroll said, but the $83 to $103 figure TSA released earlier appears to be on track. Each state is subject to levy its own fee as well, Carroll added.

A time frame for the application processing has not been specified as of yet. “The unknown is whether this will work smoothly through the TSA structure,” Carroll said. However, IBT already has a similar fingerprint collection infrastructure in place with the U.S. military. Last year, IBT processed between 300,000 to 400,000 fingerprints from new military applicants, Carroll said, underscoring that the collection and electronic transfer infrastructure has already been in place with the FBI.

“The model is built on technology and improved upon since 2000 (through our military contract),” he said. “That’s part of the reason why we were awarded the contract— because we’ve done it before.”

Meanwhile, carriers are bracing for a shrinking pool of qualified HazMat-certified drivers. Herb Schmidt, president of truckload carrier Contract Freighters Inc. (CFI), said that the company has already removed HazMat certification from its perquisite in preparation for the rule going into effect. In the future, the carrier is going to have to decide whether or not it will continue offering HazMat services.

“Right now 90% of our drivers are HazMat-certified,” Schmidt told Fleet Owner “We required certification in the past, but if we had continued to do so, we’d run into two problems. First of all, we’d shrink our pool of drivers and second, it’s expensive. But the driver shortage issue makes that decision a no-brainer. It’s just a matter of being able to fill a truck.”

Currently, CFI does haul the less-volatile varieties of HazMat freight, although the company is now re-evaluating the practicality of continuing to offer this service. “I would presume that we’ll always have a healthy percentage of our fleet that is HazMat-endorsed,” Schmidt said. “As long as we keep the amount of HazMat freight we haul to a minimum we should continue to be able to match our drivers to loads.”

However, if the pool of qualified HazMat drivers does shrink, customers are going to have to give plenty of advance notice concerning their HazMat hauling needs, Schmidt said. Otherwise, Schmidt predicts there will be sizable industrywide premiums leveraged on such freight.