The DOT is again proposing to allow Mexican trucks full access to the US under NAFTA. The proposed Pilot Program can be found here. This was a bad idea in 2007 when I originally blogged on the subject here, and remains a bad idea today for the reasons set forth below:
- Mexican companies have a proposed 3 month trial period in the first phase, requiring only three inspections per month during that period. In the second phase, the inspections drop off and the company can now run more, and unsafe trucks if they want. After 18 months the third phase goes into effect and, after a compliance review, the carrier is then given full operational authority. Nothing prevents the mexican company from running 1-2 trucks for the first periods, and then running hundreds of unsafe trucks once full authority has been given. This is only one of many possible scams can be run under this flawed program.
- The DOT Inspector General, in 2009, found that the Mexican CDL database had problems with information, and lack of information, contained within the system.
- Mexican drivers may have more than one CDL, making it harder to track dangerous truckers with these licenses. This is illegal for US CDL drivers.
- There is still a problem performing adequate safe and effecient bus and truck inspections on the border. The facilities and equipment are still laking for a full inspection program.
- Trained DOT inspection personnel are insufficient to inspect a large number of trucks and buses. Today, only 1-2% of trucks are inspected in the US. Over the last ten years how many more trained DOT inspectors have been placed on the border? Anyone looking at the DOT’s budget can quickly tell that the number of inspectors has not risen over the years.
- In 1998 50% of Mexican trucks were found to be out of service at the border.
- One border location had 1,300 trucks daily with only one inspector (an inspector can do 10-14 trucks in a day per IG’s office) and some locations had no inspectors.
- US trucks have brakes maintained by US certified brake inspectors, Mexican trucking companies do not.
- US drivers are enrolled in the Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP), with their entire driving history available to employers, Mexican truckers do not.
- US carriers are inspected by the DOT at their place of business, are we really going to have DOT inspectors in Mexico inspecting Mexican companies at their HQ?
- Mexican Companies are required to be safe, but how safe? US companies have inspections, and are rated by size, on:
a. Unsafe driving
b. Fatigued Driving
c. Driver Fitness
d. Drugs and Alcohol
e. Vehicle Maintenance
f. Cargo Securement and Loading
g. Crash History
In short this is a bad idea. Good luck finding the Mexican driver after a wreck. Best of luck taking the deposition of a records custodian somewhere in Mexico! Injured Americans will have to pay far more to get far less justice and it could all be prevented.
Currently almost 4,000 people a year die from crashes involving safer US inspected tractor trailers. Do we really want to find out how much worse it will be under this NAFTA program? I predict the death toll on our highways will rise under this program, about two years after it goes into effect. I hope I am wrong, and even more that this never goes into effect!
Call your Senators and Congressman now and ask them to vote against this!