OIG: FMCSA Adequately Monitored Cross-Border Trucking Pilot Program, Lacked a Representative Sample To Project Overall Safety Performance

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According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General, the FMCSA’s Cross-Border Trucking Pilot Program “was adequately monitored but lacked a representative sample to project overall safety performance.”

In 1992, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed; the agreement permitted the U.S. and Mexico to participate in a long-haul, cross-border program.  The FMCSA was tasked with approving and monitoring Mexico-domiciled carriers that would participate in the cross-border trucking program.   “FMCSA had to meet certain requirements and conduct a pilot program for granting long-haul authority to Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to evaluate the potential impact on safety,” the OIG states.

The program ran from October 14, 2011 to October, 2014.  In that time, 13 Mexican trucking companies were granted operating authority in the U.S. The carriers were allowed to transport goods between Mexico and the U.S.

“The Pilot Program allowed approved Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate throughout the United States for up to 3 years.  United States-domiciled motor carriers were granted reciprocal rights to operate in Mexico for the same period,” the FMCSA states.

According to the FMCSA, the 13 companies crossed into the U.S. 27, 915 times. 55 trucks and 53 drivers participated in the program. The trucks were inspected 5,447 times.

The OIG reviewed the program and found that the FMCSA sufficiently monitored and enforced activities for the pilot program to comply with the 34 “distinct requirements” established in the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, and that the FMCSA took “reasonable actions to implement the nine recommendations we made in our initial and interim pilot program audits for improving its monitoring and enforcement activities to ensure that pilot program participants comply with safety laws and regulations.”  Additionally, the OIG found that the FMCSA “established a sufficient mechanism” to evaluate whether or not the pilot program had negative effects on motor carrier safety.

Through it’s evaluation of the FMCSA’s cross-border program, the OIG found that pilot program participants “performed no worse than U.S. and Canadian motor carriers.” However, the OIG says, the 15 carriers that participated in the program was not a sufficient number to “project safety performance to the universe of Mexico-domiciled carriers that may qualify for long-haul authority in the future.”