Group opposes NAFTA program

Public Citizen and other advocacy groups are calling for congressional hearings after Mexican and United States officials announced February 23 a pilot program that initiates North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) truck cross-border agreements.

Joining Public Citizen in the protest are the Truck Safety Coalition, an umbrella group representing Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Parents Against Tired Truckers, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

The group said it sent letters to Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress indicating that “there is an urgent need for oversight hearings on safety and security issues before the DOT (US Department of Transportation) rushes to open the southern border.”

The advocacy group argued that many Mexican drivers and Mexican trucks do not meet US safety requirements, and “that the border is not ready for a surge in these long-haul trucks traveling freely throughout the country.”

On the other hand, DOT said inspectors will conduct in-person safety audits to ensure that participating Mexican companies comply with US safety regulations that require all truck drivers to hold a valid commercial driver license, carry proof they are medically fit, comply with all US hours-of-service rules, and be able to understand questions and directions in English.

Mexican truck companies that may be allowed to participate in the one-year program 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, according to DOT.

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