Two years after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety administration opened up long-haul trucking in the U.S. to motor carriers based in Mexico, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear a legal challenge levied by OOIDA, which is seeking to shut down the program.
Following a less than robust cross-border trucking pilot program, FMCSA opened up long-haul trucking in the states to motor carriers from Mexico starting in January 2015. Two separate lawsuits were filed seeking to shut down the program. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed one. The second was filed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and The Advocates for Highway Safety, as well as several other organizations. The two cases were later joined into one lawsuit.
On March 15 a three-judge panel of Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco will hear oral arguments on OOIDA’s challenge.
According to OOIDA’s litigation counsel, The Cullen Law Firm, oral arguments will focus on the case laid out in OOIDA’s brief to the Ninth Circuit: that the pilot program did not demonstrate that Mexico-domiciled motor carriers can and do operate as safely as their U.S. and Canada domiciled counterparts.
In its brief OOIDA argued:
- Performance data on motor carriers participating in the pilot program is seriously flawed and does not establish a basis for concluding that Mexico-domiciled motor carriers are capable of safely conducting long-haul trucking operations beyond the border zones.
- Because of flawed data, FMCSA is incapable of evaluating the relative safety of U.S.-, Canada-, and Mexico-domiciled motor carriers.
- Mexico-based drivers should not be permitted to operate in the United States unless and until Congress amends the laws that forbid operation of commercial motor vehicles by anyone not holding a valid CDL issued under federal standards.
Pending elsewhere, on Nov. 20, 2015, OOIDA filed a protest to the applications of two Mexico-domiciled motor carriers for permanent operating authority. The protest challenges the authority of FMCSA to grant the access because the agency had failed to establish the Mexico-based motor carriers’ safety performance through a successful pilot program.
FMCSA denied the protest without any consideration of the pilot program argument and instead said a protest could only contest the “fitness” of an applicant.
OOIDA moved for reconsideration, which was denied in March 2016. OOIDA then filed a petition to review the denial of the protest in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. That case is ongoing.