The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is supporting a year-long pilot program announced February 23 that expands US cross-border trucking operations with Mexico.
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), US trucks will for the first time be allowed to make deliveries in Mexico while a select group of Mexican trucking companies will be allowed to make deliveries beyond the 20-25 mile commercial zones currently in place along the US Southwest border.
ATA said the pilot program recognizes the need to improve efficiency at the border, pointing out that nearly $2.4 billion in trade flows between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Seventy-five percent of the value of that trade is carried by truck. Under the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), US exports to Mexico and Canada have increased 157 percent.
Truck safety inspectors working for the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will travel to Mexico to conduct extensive safety audits on companies interested in hauling cargo into and out of the United States as part of the program, DOT said.
FMCSA inspectors will evaluate Mexican carriers' driver testing for compliance with US requirements. They also will check that drivers have a valid commercial driver license, have a current medical certificate, can comply with US hours-of-service rules, and be able to understand questions and directions in English. The FMCSA teams will review driving histories for each driver the company plans to use to operate within the United States.
In addition, each inspection team will verify that every US-bound truck has passed a comprehensive safety inspection. Trucks lacking required documentation will be subject to an inspection by the teams. DOT said that Mexican truck companies will be required to have insurance with a US-licensed firm and meet all US safety standards. Companies that meet these standards will be allowed to make international pick up and deliveries only and will not be able to move goods from one US city for delivery to another, haul hazardous materials, or transport passengers.
"Such regulation of Mexican carriers operating in the United States will ensure a level playing field in cross-border operations,” said Clayton Boyce, ATA public affairs vice-president. "Ensuring a level playing field also requires that when US carriers are to begin operations in Mexico, the permitting and regulatory processes put in place by the government of Mexico must be fair, clear, and transparent.”
The first Mexican trucks to be authorized under the program will begin traveling beyond US border areas once the initial in-person safety inspections are done and proof-of-insurance verified, DOT said. Meanwhile, Mexico will begin to consider applications from US trucking firms for licensing rights to operate within Mexico. Approximately 100 US operators would be licensed by Mexico for cross-border operations.
More information about the program is available on the dot.gov Web site.