DOT Says Mexican Trucks Shouldnt Run Long Haul in the U.S.

Seizing on one aspect of the January 3, 2005 report, “Follow-up Audit of the Implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) Cross Border Trucking Provisions,” the Teamsters claim that because Mexican motor carriers are not accessible for on-site safety reviews by the U.S. Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), they are not in compliance with the treaty and should not be permitted to handle long-hauls in the U.S.

The report provides a history of some actions relating to Section 350 of the appropriations act of FY 2002, which prohibited the FMCSA from using funds to review or process applications for long haul of Mexican motor carriers until certain conditions and safety requirements were met.

In late November 2002, President Bush lifted the moratorium on granting operating authority to Mexican motor carriers. The President’s actions were halted on January 16, 2003 when a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which set aside three FMCSA regulations for processing these Mexican applications pending results of a Clean Air Act analysis and Environmental Impact Statement. Next, on June 7, 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the reversed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.

As of September 2004 the FMCSA had 678 Mexican motor carriers requesting authority to operate 4,000 long-haul vehicles. Although, as the report indicates, the OIG feels that “FMCSA has sufficient staff, facilities, equipment and procedures in place to substantially meet the eight Section 350 provisions for Mexican long-haul trucks . . . until an agreement or other understandings related to on-site safety reviews is reached with Mexico, FMCSA cannot, in our view, grant long-haul authority to any Mexican motor carrier.”

One hang up is the portion of Section 350 that requires the FMCSA to review 50% of Mexican motor carriers applying for long haul authority on-site and that be at lease 50% of the estimated truck traffic for the year. Mexico and the U.S. have not agreed on procedures for conducting the reviews.

Additionally, the OIG is concerned that the just as FMCSA must fulfill new requirements for background checks for U.S. drivers applying for hazardous materials endorsements, that these apply to Mexican motor carriers, as well.

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