3rd Mexican Carrier Cleared for Cross-Border Program
The latest in a series of Mexico-based trucking companies has received authorization to begin cross-border operations into the United States. The pilot program, administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safty Administration, has just approved the 3rd addition to its cross-border transportation program. Since the program's introduction, dozens of trips across the border have been made, and this latest carrier is poised to begin cross-border operations in the near future. The program, which has been hotly debated among in the transportation industry, is currently the target of litigation from OOIDA, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
OOIDA has asserted that an American regulatory agency has no authority to grant permissions to Mexican trucking companies which may not meet stringent safety and drug testing standards. Because these tests are less heavily regulated in Mexico, OOIDA members believe that those holding trucking driving jobs whose drivers obtain only a Mexico commercial driver's license may not be held to the same standards as those holding U.S. truck driving jobs. Many believe that this will not only lead to a decrease in overall driver safety in the trucking industry, but that the difference in standards may lead to a decrease in overall business for domestically-based drivers who are strictly bound by stringent U.S. driving regulations.
The FMCSA has stated in its latest legal brief that the OOIDA organization lacks standing to bring such a case against the regulatory body, since it's the FMCSA's belief that OOIDA members will not be harmed in any way by such a cross-border program. FMCSA further asserts that program does not in any way regulate independent U.S. based truck driving jobs, and since Mexico-based trucking companies covered under the program are prohibited from delivering point-to-point within the United States, FMCSA believes that OOIDA members would lose no business at all.
The Teamsters' Union has filed counterarguments to FMCSA, stating primarily that the small number of carriers who have currently been cleared represent an insignificant portion of the overall number of carriers in Mexico, and thus cannot be used as a representative sample to assert that there is no danger from less-regulated Mexican commercial license holders.
There are another 15 carriers awaiting approval to begin cross-border operations, and these are expected to be approved in the coming months. This will increase the number of border crossings by trailers which receive expedited Customs inspections when en route from Mexico, and although the majority of these carriers are expected to only deliver within a specifically-defined "Border Zone" concerns about safety and regulation remain at the forefront of the legal debate.