SPECIAL REPORT: FMCSA seeks comments on cross-border program

| 5/3/2007

Thursday, May 3, 2007 – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration opened a 30-day comment period on the cross-border program with a Federal Register notice published May 1.

For those who have followed press coverage, the notice contains very little, if any, new information about the program itself.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is almost more disappointed with what isn’t in theFederal Register notice than with what is in it.

“It’s outrageous that FMCSA continues to gloss over the fact that they’re making this stuff up as they go,” said Rick Craig, director of regulatory affairs for OOIDA.

The notice runs down the list of items that will be verified when Mexican motor carriers apply for authority and undergo the pre-authorization safety audits.

Craig said the notice is long on checklists and way short on details.

“There’s not a word in there how the agency actually intends to accomplish gathering, compiling and verifying the information provided,” he said. “There is absolutely no assurance that any information in this verification process can be trusted.”

The notice also discusses the process of issuing operating authority and what happens to that authority at the end of the year-long pilot program.

Enforcement is touched on briefly in the notice. For example, if a truck from Mexico is caught with point-to-point freight, violating cabotage laws, all that will happen, according to the notice, is that it will be put out of service.

“There’s nothing in the notice about what happens once that truck and driver are put out of service,” Craig said. “And, if there has been any training of motor carrier enforcement personnel in how to handle that situation, we’re certainly unaware of it.”

OOIDA contends there are far too many questions left unanswered by the notice. The Association intends to call attention to these oversights in its comments.

In the meantime, truckers wanting to comment on the cross-border program have until May 31 to file comments.

Craig encourages truckers to submit comments on the real-world impact this program will have on U.S. truckers – issues like competition for freight with underpaid Mexican truck drivers, fuel and other taxes Mexican motor carriers may or may not pay, safety, etc.

To see the Federal Register notice, click here.

Where to send comments
Comments can be signed or submitted anonymously. All submissions must include the agency name and docket ID number. For the cross-border program comment period, that number is FMCSA-2007-28055.

To submit your completed comments, you can:

      Docket Management Facility
      U.S. Department of Transportation
      400 Seventh St. SW, Nassif Building Room PL-401
      Washington, DC 20590-0001

– By Jami Jones, senior editor