First border auditors complete new training course

The first students in the border auditors course conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have graduated, according to FMCSA information. They will conduct inspections of Mexico-domiciled commercial vehicles that will operate in the United States when the cross-border truck and bus provisions are implemented this summer.

"President Bush and I are committed to extending the benefits of free trade throughout our hemisphere, while ensuring that all trucks and buses operate safely in the United States," says Transportation Secretary Norman Y Mineta. "Each of these auditors will help the United States to safely implement the truck and bus provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement."

The graduates will join other FMCSA auditors in conducting safety audits and roadside inspections. They will be assigned responsibility for promoting and enforcing the federal motor carrier safety regulations (FMCSR) and hazardous material regulations.

The Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, signed into law by President Bush on December 18, 2001, established three categories of personnel to ensure the safe operation of commercial vehicles at the border: safety inspector, safety auditor, and safety investigator. Each position performs distinct duties, although a safety investigator is qualified to perform all the tasks of each position.

Safety inspectors perform commercial motor vehicle (CMV) inspections to ensure compliance with FMCSR. Safety auditors conduct safety reviews of Mexico-domiciled carriers. They also are trained to perform vehicle inspections.

Safety reviews include verification of safety management programs such as hours-of-service compliance, vehicle inspection and maintenance, drug and alcohol testing programs, and financial responsibility. The review also includes verification of driver qualifications, vehicle inspections, and an interview with carrier officials to inspect safety management controls.

Safety investigators conduct compliance reviews on Mexico-domiciled carriers to ensure they operate safely, conducts safety audits, and vehicle inspections.

On March 14, 2002, the FMCSA took a key step toward opening the border by issuing a series of rules that will govern how Mexico-domiciled carriers can apply for operating authority and procedures to ensure the safety of Mexican commercial vehicles and drivers operating in the US.

FMCSA will continue to take the steps needed to open the border, including hiring inspectors, securing additional vehicle inspection space at the border, and working with US and Mexico-domiciled carriers to educate companies about complying with Federal safety standards once the border is opened, anticipated by mid-year, according to the FMCSA.

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