Long awaited action from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)regarding regulations for Mexican trucks operating in the United States is nearing fruition. A final rule is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register next week to addresses registration for two types of carriers: those that stay within a limited US/Mexico border zone, and those that will operate beyond that zone. The border crossings are expected to begin by mid-year.
All Mexican carriers will be required to have a distinctive US Department of Transportation number, pass a safety inspection, undergo intensified safety monitoring during an 18-month provisional period, and provide supplemental safety certifications as part of the application process. Mexican commercial vehicles will be permitted to enter the United States only at commercial border crossings and only when a certified motor carrier safety inspector is on duty.
The rule establishes procedures to certify and maintain certification for auditors and investigators. It also requires certification for state or local government employees who perform driver and/or vehicle roadside inspections.
Mexican carriers operating in the United States have a drug-and- alcohol-testing program, a system of compliance with the US hours-of-service requirements, adequate data and safety management systems, and valid insurance with a US-registered insurance company. The carrier’s ability to meet these requirements will be verified by a safety audit conducted by qualified US inspectors prior to receiving provisional authority to operate in the United States.
At least half of the safety audits, which are to be conducted by qualified inspectors, must take place in Mexico. In addition to safety audits, all Mexican carriers granted provisional operating authority will undergo full safety compliance reviews during the 18-month provisional period. FMCSA intends to provide Mexican carriers with educational and technical assistance before the border opens, and as they apply for operating authority.
In companion documents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed rules and procedures that manufacturers would be required to follow to retrofit vehicles with certification labels, complementing FMCSA’s proposal that all trucks and buses operating in the United States carry labels certifying that they meet US federal motor vehicle safety standards at the time of manufacture.