The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Mexican Pilot Program has been argued in State Houses, Court Houses, Trade Conventions and Truck Stops. It has far-reaching implications for the Transportation industry, which is one of the nation’s largest business sectors.
The development and passage of this program has been contentious and controversial, to say the least. It was created under a U.S. Department of Transportation program, which aims to meet a mandate stipulated under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Supporters of FMCSA’s Mexican Pilot Program say it allows for direct deliveries between the United States and
Mexico, benefiting consumers in both nations by lowering transportation costs.
Critics say it’s an unnecessary outsourcing of jobs that should rightly be kept for Americans, along with being a safety hazard to American truck drivers and commuters, as well as a set of laws that allow Mexican carriers to violate U.S. environmental protections.
The latest version of the FMCSA’s program emerged from talks between President Obama and Mexican President Felipe CalderÃ³n in which Mexico agreed to lift tariffs on products that include U.S. durable goods, produce, pork and Christmas trees.
As of November 2011, there are only 3 approved companies for the Mexican Pilot Program for Motor Carriers: Distribuidor a Marina El Pescador, Transportes Olympic, and Grupo Behr de Baja California. Transportes Olympic is currently the only carrier moving freight across the U.S. border.
In the last few weeks the Teamsters led by James Hoffa, along with The Sierra Club and Public Citizen filed a lawsuit in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California to stop the pilot project from moving forward. The case is pending.
So what are the actual laws that dictate what Mexican carrier companies can do? Here’s a quick overview.
Mexican Motor Carriers MUST:
- Obey all U.S. State and Federal motor vehicle laws
- Deliver only point-to-point freight entering the U.S. – They may not engage in cabotage.
- Test all their drivers for English Language Proficiency (ELP)
- Equip all trucks with electronic monitoring devices that record hours of service and GPS for positioning
- Display a valid CVSA inspection decal and a matching USDOT number with an “X” suffix on all trucks
- Deliver only standard freight – they may not transport passengers, hazardous materials, cranes or other oversized loads
- Issue their drivers the Mexican “Licencia Federal de Conductor,” which is a valid CDL in America
- Pay all fines, fees and sentences if involved in a collision on U.S. roadways