The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is asking for comments on the initiation of a project to demonstrate the ability of Mexico-based motor carriers to operate safely in the United States, according to information published May 1 in the Federal Register.
Comments must be received on or before May 31, 2007.
The issue raised the hackles of members of Congress, advocacy groups, and other organizations after the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced February 23, 2007, a plan to implement trucking provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). DOT said then the purpose of the project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the safety programs adopted by Mexico-domiciled motor carriers and the monitoring and enforcement systems developed by DOT, which together ensure that Mexican motor carriers operating in the United States can maintain the same level of highway safety as US-based motor carriers.
Meanwhile, on April 24, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Law Foundation, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Brotherhood of Teamsters’ Auto and Truck Drivers Local 70, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sought an injunction requiring the DOT and FMCSA either to comply with the law by providing public notice of the pilot program and an opportunity for the public to comment on the program, or to set aside the pilot project as unlawful.
According to the latest Federal Register information that does ask for public comment, the demonstration project will allow up to 100 Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate throughout the United States for one year. Up to 100 US-domiciled motor carriers will be granted reciprocal rights to operate in Mexico for the same period. Participating Mexican carriers and drivers will be required to comply with all applicable US laws and regulations, including those concerned with motor carrier safety, customs, immigration, vehicle registration and taxation, and fuel taxation.
FMCSA said the safety of the participating carriers will be tracked closely by FMCSA and its state partners, a joint US-Mexico monitoring group, and an evaluation panel independent of the Department of Transportation (DOT). The resulting data will be considered carefully before further decisions are made concerning the implementation of the NAFTA trucking provisions.
To see the information in the Federal Register, click here.