Changes in Cross Border Trucking Program

The Department of Transportation recently voiced their dedication to the long-haul cross-border trucking program with Mexico. However, it looks like there are still some serious obstacles involved in fully implementing the plan. A recent audit from the Office of Inspector General has shown that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a lot that they need to accomplish for this program, yet so far they have done very little to meet these legal requirements.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, is required to conduct 50 percent of its pre-authority safety audits and compliance reviews with its motor carriers in Mexico. Despite this requirement, no plans have been finalized to perform any safety inspections as of yet. The audit also reports that the FMCSA did not plan to conduct any reviews or inspections in Mexico due to safety concerns even though the Office of Inspector General was informed of the agency's intention to comply fully with the law.

It was also noted by the Office of Inspector General that failure to complete these inspections will also prevent the FMCSA from complying with several other critical legal requirements that are needed to get this program off the ground.

It has been confirmed that the FMCSA does indeed have the authority and the manpower to conduct all the necessary reviews and inspections on the US-Mexico border, although what those reviews and inspections will entail is still a mystery. While the FMCSA has been taking steps to improve the monitoring of drivers and trucks that come into the country from Mexico, it is clear that certain issues have not been addressed. Specifically, the FMCSA has allegedly not made any clear-cut plans to develop a system for checking trucks at the border nor have they established a system that would allow them to verify the eligibility of drivers for the pilot program. In addition to these shortcomings, the FMCSA has also not performed any pilot program training for inspection personnel for those who would be performing border inspections. In the past, any training that has been performed has allegedly come in the form of one-page pamphlets that were handed out to personnel members, a method that clearly accomplishes very little according to authorities.

The cross-border trucking program continues to face other legal hurdles as well. When the program was officially announced on July 6, a suit was filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The Teamsters and Public Citizens unions also filed a petition in the 9th District US Court of Appeals nearly two months later. Pending legislation has also been filed in Congress by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR. This legislation would undoubtedly derail this program if it is passed.

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