OOIDA leaders say plan to track cross-border trucks lacks substance

| 11/6/2007

Starting later this month, trucks crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a new demonstration program will have equipment on board that allows them to be monitored as they pick up and deliver their loads.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced the plan, noting that the decision to require the installation of satellite tracking technology on trucks in the program was made after members of Congress expressed a desire to know whether participants are complying with federal safety and trade laws.

“It may sound impressive to those unfamiliar with the industry or the limits of the technology, but closer scrutiny verifies it’s a cosmetic cover up for a poorly conceived program,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “You can polish up a rock, but then you’ll just have a shiny rock.”

FMCSA officials contend the information gathered from the equipment will ensure that trucks comply with hours-of-service laws and rules that govern their trips into and out of the U.S. The GPS-based technology also will allow real-time tracking of trucks’ locations, documenting every international-border and state-line crossing.

The satellite-based technology, developed by San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc., will be used to track trucks by vehicle number and company only. No driver information will be collected.

“I don’t see how this ensures anything from a safety or security standpoint. We’d like FMCSA to explain in more detail exactly how this system will actually keep track of the hours of service of a trucker,” Spencer said.

The agency will initially spend approximately $367,000 to outfit all trucks from the United States and Mexico that take part in the program.

“As we might have expected, FMCSA has U.S. taxpayers picking up the tab for this from money that should be spent on highways and bridges,” Spencer added.

– By Jami Jones, senior editor