BREAKING NEWS: FMCSA to open border to long-haul trucking from Mexico

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 1/9/2015

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will soon be accepting applications from Mexico-based trucking companies to operate long-haul in the United States – in spite of a recent Department of Transportation Inspector General report stating the pilot program had failed to prove that any and all Mexico-based trucks could safely operate long-haul in the U.S.

In what the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association considers an “end-around move,” the agency admitted to the lackluster performance of the pilot program in a report to Congress, also released on Friday, Jan. 9, but is keeping the status quo according to the pending Federal Register notice.

The agency reported to Congress that the performance of the pilot program participants – and 351 enterprise motor carriers, which are 55 percent Mexico-owned, U.S. based companies that were not of the pilot program – justifies no changes to the regulations.

That allows for the agency to continue accepting applications from Mexico-based motor carriers. The regulations still stipulate they will have to complete a pre-authority safety audit, and the public will have the opportunity to review the applications and comment.

At the conclusion of the cross-border pilot program on Oct. 10, 2014, only 15 motor carriers participated in the program. FMCSA estimated it needed 46 motor carriers to produce a statistically valid sample. Only two of the 15 participating motor carriers generated any sort of traffic at the border, and the lion’s share of that traffic remained in the border zone.

“This skewed distribution of activity makes a statistical projection about the ability of Mexico-domiciled carriers to operate safely beyond the commercial zones along the United States-Mexico border unreliable,” the recent Department of Transportation Inspector General report states.

“The FMCSA is clearly doing an end-around and playing with numbers to try and justify opening the border to long-haul trucks from Mexico,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president. “It’s clear from the lack of participation that Mexico-based motor carriers are not interested in hauling beyond the commercial zone, if it means complying with the same regulations that U.S. truckers do.

“FMCSA’s persistence to move this program forward is mind-boggling, especially when the agency tells us ad nauseam that their highest priority is safety. Yet this program is all about geo-political economics.”

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