Mexican Cross-Border Trucking Has Problems Says Government Audit

The cross-border trucking program targeted towards Mexican trucking companies faces an unstable future based on an audit by the United States government.

The first Mexican truck to cross the border as part of the pilot program occurred in October 2011. This start to the crossings resulted from an agreement approved in July 2011 by President Obama and Mexican president Felipe Calderon.

Even this pilot program has come under fire by union groups and other groups opposed to the program. These groups, such as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, feel that the pilot program does not require Mexican-based trucks or their drivers to meet certain safety standards that the American trucking industry must meet.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) filed a suit to halt the program as they also felt the Mexican trucking industry did not have to meet the same requirements as American truckers.

One of the requirements of the Obama administration’s pilot program was for an audit to be conducted of the program once it commenced. The audit began in October 2011 and ran through May 2012. The Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted the audit.

The audit revealed that a certain number of participants in the program were necessary in order to derive valid statistical data. However, only four companies have participated out the 50 that was estimated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) during the three-year period of the pilot program. The number of inspections done was also dreadfully low with only 89 out of 4,100 targeted.

The OIG audit found problems with the English proficiency testing of the Mexican drivers and the recognition of traffic signs. They recommended that the FMCSA’s pre-assessments should require drivers to answer all tests in English and be able to recognize all traffic signs as opposed to the random sampling done initially. The report also found deficiencies in the driver’s license verifications and the cabotage detection. FMCSA responded that they would incorporate the English proficiency and sign recognition recommendations into their testing program.

OOIDA has stated they were not surprised with findings of the OIG report and the low participation rate by Mexico-based carriers in the pilot program. They feel the pilot program is unfair since Mexico offers no reciprocity that is relevant or that corresponds to American truckers.

The pilot program will require another audit at the end of the three-year program. The proponents of the program hope that more Mexican trucking companies will participate in the program so that enough data can be derived to fully assess the program.

Many farmers and related industries in the United States want to see the program succeed. They fear that if it is not successful, then Mexico will begin to put tariffs on American products. They feel that the Mexican government should take the lack of interest in the program by their trucking industry when considering tariffs if the pilot program does not succeed.

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