Mexico Trucking Program Update

Although NAFTA made it legal for Mexican trucks to operate inside the United States, a moratorium enacted by the U.S. Department of Transportation at the end of 1995 has prevented Mexican trucks from operating outside "border zones," areas extending just a few miles outside major border crossings. To combat concern over the effect opening the market to Mexican trucks would have on American truck driving jobs and the road safety has led the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to start a pilot program that allows a small number of Mexican carriers to operate vehicles throughout the U.S. Through this program, they hope to establish a system to license Mexican carriers to operate in this country while complying with domestic regulations.

The FMCSA recently announced that they have added a fourth carrier, Transportes Del Valle De Guadalupe, to this cross-border pilot program. The Baja California-based company will be allowed to operate a single truck and driver outside the commercial border zones. On May 11, FMCSA published a Federal Register Notice and Request for Comment on Transportes Del Velle's Pre-Authority Safety Audit (PASA.) This document also allowed the release of PASA information for pilot program members Servicios Refrigerados Internacionales and Higienicos Y Desechables Del Bajio.

This pilot program has brought about concerns. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety has asked for more safety information about these truck driving companies. FMCSA Associate Administrator William Quade addressed the first concern, noting that the FMCSA currently publishes both PASA and Safety Measurement System (SMS) data, which the agency believes is the “strongest indicator of the safety and compliance record of a carrier.” The Advocates group is pushing for more information, as they're worried about past problems with companies hiding previous safety record errors.

Meanwhile, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has raised some questions about Higienicos Y Desechables Del Bajio's application, which had the wrong signature and carrier name. It is FMCSA policy not to refuse an application outright due to errors if the document is otherwise in compliance. The agency is working with Higiencios Y Desechebles to resubmit an error-free application.

At the May 23 meeting of the FMCSA's Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, Quaid mentioned that a dozen other carriers have either been refused a PASA or had withdrawn their application. Currently, there are fifteen trucking companies applying for a PASA to operate trucks in the U.S. It is hoped that this pilot program will lead to a uniform vetting process that will allow the Mexican trucking industry to operate vehicles within America's borders while ensuring that they comply with the same regulations required of domestic carriers.

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