Study: U.S. unable to ensure safety of Mexican carriers

| 1/10/2002

The U.S. Department of Transportation lacks an effective plan and the facilities to ensure that Mexican trucks operating in the United States comply with American safety and environmental standards, according to a congressional report released Tuesday.

The General Accounting Office said the U.S. government and most border states are not prepared to ensure that Mexican-domiciled carriers meet U.S. safety standards, outlined in legislation last year that broke the impasse to allow the trucks full access to U.S. roads. The GAO also concluded that relatively few Mexican carriers are ready to kick off cross-border operations because they have not yet drummed up enough business in the United States, have had difficulty obtaining competitively priced insurance and high registration fees.

Auditors found extensive shortcomings in the DOT's preparations for the border opening, and noted that it criticized the department for the same failures in earlier reports. "Although some progress has been made, there is continued uncertainty about the extent to which Mexican commercial trucks meet U.S. safety standards," said the GAO, Congress' investigative arm.

Federal regulators have not obtained permanent space for inspections of Mexican trucks at any of the 25 southwest border ports of entry, which is crucial for conducting regular, rigorous inspections, the GAO said. Instead, federal officials are using space provided by the U.S. Customs Service.