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Mexican Truck Pilot Advances as Public Interest Groups Sue for Halt

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is requesting no later than Dec. 9 public comment on data and information on a pre-authorization safety audit conducted for one motor carrier that has applied to participate in the pilot program to test and demonstrate the ability of Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate safely in the U.S. beyond specified border zones. FMCSA believes this step fulfills one of the requirements in a 2007 law setting forth certain actions that must be taken before authority may be granted to any Mexican long-haul carrier to operate throughout the U.S.

According to FMCSA, the named carrier successfully completed its PASA and the results of this audit are available here. While the law only requires the publication of data for carriers receiving operating authority, FMCSA will also publish this information to show motor carriers that failed to meet U.S. safety standards.

In related news, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Public Citizen and the Sierra Club have filed a federal lawsuit attempting to prevent FMCSA from implementing the pilot program. “Opening the border to these dangerous, dirty trucks is an attack on highway safety, an attack on American truckers and warehouse workers, an attack on border security and an attack on our environment,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. According to a Teamsters press release, the plaintiffs argue that the pilot program:

• illegally waives a law that trucks must display certain proof that they meet federal safety standards;

• breaks the law requiring the pilot program to achieve an equivalent level of safety because Mexican drivers don’t have to meet the same physical requirements as U.S. drivers;

• breaks the law that Mexico must provide simultaneous and comparable access to U.S. trucks, which Mexico cannot do “because of the limited availability of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in Mexico;”

• breaks the law that the pilot program must include enough participants to be statistically valid and ensures that only the best Mexican trucks participate, which would allow FMCSA to “justify letting any Mexican truck over the border in the future;” and

• doesn’t comply with the environment requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act.

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