Federal Update
Truckers surprised by places they're asked, and not asked, for TWIC card

By Charlie Morasch
staff writer


Gary Carr visits ports nearly every day.

Carr, an OOIDA member from Wayne, ME, hauls fish from the northeast to the West Coast, stopping at ports in Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington.

A year ago, Carr obtained a Transportation Worker Identification Credential card – a computer-chipped biometric ID card, which stores his fingerprints and U.S. documentation.

Carr said he’s rarely asked to show his TWIC. Instead, he’s allowed to drive within 10 feet of water, sometimes close to cargo and cruise ships after merely flashing his CDL.

“I don’t understand where it’s totally required and where it’s not,” Carr said. “I like the idea of TWIC. It just amazes me that the government required me to pay $132 for something I’m not using.”

Carr isn’t alone.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents in a poll said their TWIC IDs were checked always or most of the time at ports; 29 percent said rarely; and 32 percent of respondents said they were never checked for TWIC at ports.

About 285,000 truckers have TWIC IDs, which last five years. The program has spent $171 million since 2003.

Increasingly, OOIDA members are using their TWIC cards when entering facilities that want to photocopy ID.

Carr prefers showing his TWIC, which doesn’t list personal information.

“Unless you know how to read that TWIC card, you’re not going to get anything off of it,” Carr said. “With a driver’s license, they’ve got a copy that can go anywhere after I show it.”

Truckers may be asked to show TWIC cards depending on whether they are in areas defined as “secure,” said TSA Spokesman Greg Soule.

Coast Guard Spokeswoman Lisa Novak said she didn’t know of safety concerns regarding truckers not being asked to show TWIC cards.

Currently, 70 different card readers are being tested in pilot programs, including systems that require truckers to place fingers onto a scanner. The results of the pilot programs will be delivered to the Coast Guard this year before a final card reader rule is published. LL