Spinout: OOIDA questions FMCSA's version of Mexican truck stats

| Friday, September 21, 2007

Media reports started flying earlier this week, proclaiming that Mexican motor carriers are safer than their U.S. counterparts.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association responded with skepticism to the claims by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that safety records of Mexican trucks are better than U.S counterparts.

“It’s the same spin we’ve come to expect,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “And, it’s proof positive the nation’s top truck safety office has had its safety agenda hijacked by global profiteers.”

Just two weeks ago, at a late evening conference announcing the start of the program, FMCSA Administrator John Hill had no specific information on these carriers when questioned about the safety performance of grandfathered carriers operating in the United States.

Data on Mexico-based motor carriers and Mexican CDL holders are not kept in a single database. And the data on drivers alone isn’t exactly reliable, according to OOIDA.

According to a U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General report, when examining the border inspection practices of states where these trucks have allegedly been operating, they curiously found few, if any, violations.

Upon closer examination the inspectors, not FMCSA, discovered that Texas and New Mexico had greatly under-reported the number of convictions. Additionally, they found vehicle inspections are not reported at all in the 52nd State System – the database containing records of traffic violations Mexican commercial drivers commit in the United States.

For instance, New Mexico coded every Mexican violation incorrectly, so no records of convictions were recorded after July 2005. In Texas, the inspectors found there was a backlog of 40,000 Mexican driver related commercial convictions and had no idea how long the backlog had been going on.

“So, it appears the FMCSA did not notice there had not been any convictions from New Mexico and a great decline in Texas, but never looked to find out why,” said Spencer.

The 52nd State System does not include truck safety issues or certain motor carrier regulations such as violations relating to operating a vehicle without operating authority or drivers failing to provide shipping documents.

The IG report also noted issues remain with verifying the Mexican commercial driver’s license. Sixteen percent of checks show “record not found.” As far as background checks for security purposes, there are no such databases in Mexico.

Land Line Magazine requested a copy of the report outlining the inspection numbers being widely reported. However, FMCSA failed to provide a copy of that report.

“There are numerous other safety and security concerns that obviously just don’t matter to this administration,” added Spencer.

“Congress has spoken. The American public has spoken. It’s time for the DOT to listen.”

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