Lackluster cross-border program nearing end of three-year pilot program

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 7/25/2014

Nearing the end of the three-year pilot cross-border trucking program with Mexico, the participation remains low.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Foundation has conducted a thorough top-to-bottom review of reports, inspections and applications, as well as monitoring the program data since the program began.

The party no one is coming to
Currently, there are 13 Mexico-domiciled motor carriers with operating authority in the pilot program.

OOIDA Foundation research shows more motor carriers have been revoked, dismissed, failed the PASA or withdrew from the program, 25 in all, than are participating. Two more motor carriers have passed the initial audit and are awaiting authority to participate in the program.

In setting up the program, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimated it would need 46 motor carriers participating in the program to get 4,100 inspections. The agency determined that many inspections would make the program statistically valid.

As of July 13, there have been 5,175 inspections, according to OOIDA Foundation review of the weekly reports on the pilot program's activity. Because of the limited participation, two motor carriers account for 82 percent of those inspections. Of the Mexico-domiciled carriers participating, the majority have one vehicle and one driver and participate very little in the program.

Long-haul left out
The intent of the program was to determine whether motor carriers based in Mexico could safely move long-haul freight into the U.S.

The OOIDA Foundation found in the pilot program reports that as of July 13 the pilot program participants have traveled approximately 1.3 million miles in the southern border states – those states that are already part of the commercial zone. Only 221,837 miles have been traveled into non-border states in the 33 months the program has been going. That means 82 percent of all the miles to date have not been anything that border zone trucks could not have driven in the absence of a pilot program.

Safe or not
The OOIDA Foundation found what could be considered a troubling statistic in reviewing out-of-service data in the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System.

There have been 118 out-of-service orders issued. Currently the pilot program is averaging 1.3 OOS violations per week, while averaging only 53 inspections per week.

In comparing OOS rates and violations to U.S. motor carriers in the MCMIS database, the OOIDA Foundation found dramatically higher OOS rates for U.S. motor carriers for identical violations found on the Mexico-based pilot program participants – showing enforcement is tougher on U.S. truckers.

For example, 78.22 percent of all U.S. truckers found driving after being declared out of service are again put out of service. However, truckers from Mexico have no OOS rate – 0 percent to be exact – for the same violation. U.S. truckers under 21 years of age are put OOS 93.62 percent of the time. Mexico drivers under the age of 21 are put OOS only 42.11 percent of the time.

Next steps
The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee has been tasked with reviewing the pilot program by FMCSA. A subcommittee will be holding a meeting on the program on Monday, July 28. Presentations are slated from representatives from Mexico as well as FMCSA.

While there is not a specific agenda item, the committee members could likely address the program’s data, such as this information reviewed by the OOIDA Foundation.

Editor's note: This article was updated on July 30 to reflect data sources the OOIDA Foundation researched related to the cross-border pilot program.


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