FMCSA sued over move to open border to Mexican trucks

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 3/12/2015

Less than two months after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced it would begin granting authority to Mexico-based motor carriers to operate throughout the U.S., a lawsuit has been filed seeking to stop the agency from opening the border to long-haul trucks from Mexico.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and two of its local chapters, along with the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition, filed the suit on March 10 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, Calif.

The lawsuit alleges that the final report provided to Congress on the now-concluded cross-border pilot program violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The groups claim the report is arbitrary and capricious because of its conclusion that Mexico-based motor carriers are as safe as, or safer than, their U.S. and Canadian counterparts in spite of lack of data to make any such determination.

The agency reported to Congress on Jan. 9 that the performance of the pilot program participants and more than 900 enterprise motor carriers, including 351 that joined during the pilot program, justifies no changes to the regulations. Enterprise motor carriers are U.S. based motor carriers with 55 percent or more Mexico ownership and were not technically part of the pilot program.

That determination allowed for the agency to continue accepting applications from Mexico-based motor carriers.

The lawsuit filed against FMCSA breaks down inspection data on the pilot program participants as well as the U.S.-based enterprise carriers the agency collected data on. The complaint alleges that the agency’s final determination on the safe operation of pilot program participants is off the mark.

The plaintiffs’ assessment mirrors the conclusion of a 2014 audit on the program conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

The audit released by the Inspector General in December 2014 reported that the program failed to prove all Mexico-based motor carriers should be granted full access to U.S. highways, according to an audit on the program released by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

The audit concludes that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did provide sufficient monitoring and enforcement of the pilot program participants. But because the program lacked an adequate number of Mexico-domiciled pilot program carriers, the program did not result in statistically valid findings.

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