Follow this link to read the Federal Register entry announcing the FMCSA's proposal of a US-Mexico cross-border long-haul trucking pilot program. It will also explain how you can submit your comments.
Statement of ATA President & CEO Graves on Cross-Border Trucking Proposal
ARLINGTON, Va., April 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following the U.S. Department of Transportation's release of the details of a pilot program to restart longhaul cross-border trucking program, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves issued the following statement:
"The American Trucking Associations welcomes the progress that the United States and Mexico are making to resolve their ongoing dispute over cross-border trucking. This proposal requires Mexican carriers to follow all the same rules and regulations that their American counterparts are subject to and takes steps to monitor Mexican trucks to ensure that those rules are being followed.
ATA expressed concerns to DOT about the U.S. government's earlier proposal to pay for and provide electronic onboard recorders to Mexican trucks participating in a proposed pilot program. DOT has changed this specific requirement to allow for GPS systems to also be used for tracking purposes to ensure compliance with U.S. cabotage and hours of service regulations. We believe this is a sound change by the administration.
This announcement is good news for the U.S. businesses that have been hurt by Mexico's retaliatory tariffs, including the trucking industry, and we look forward to the U.S. finally living up to its commitments under the North American Free Trade Agreement."
The American Trucking Associations (www.truckline.com) is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of other trucking groups, industry-related conferences, and its 50 affiliated state trucking associations, ATA represents more than 37,000 members covering every type of motor carrier in the United States. Follow ATA on Twitter @TruckingMatters (www.twitter.com/truckingmatters), or become a fan on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/y4qwp6h).
SOURCE American Trucking Associations
Truckers: Opening Border To Mexico Is Irresponsible
GRAIN VALLEY, Mo., April 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is infuriated on behalf of small-business truckers and professional truck drivers at today's announcement by the White House to open up U.S. highways to Mexican trucks.
"This is the wrong plan at the wrong time for numerous reasons," said Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of OOIDA. "It's irresponsible and reckless. The Administration must reconsider or Congress must step in again to force them to do the right thing."
The majority of trucking companies based in the U.S. are small businesses. As many as 93% of all motor carriers have fewer than 20 trucks in their fleets and 78% of motor carriers have fleets of six or fewer trucks. Owner-operator fleets averaging slightly more than one truck represent nearly half the total number of heavy-duty commercial trucks operated in the U.S. Those trucking companies and truck drivers must contend with ever-increasing safety, homeland security and environmental regulations that dramatically affect their costs of operation as well as their ability to make a living at their chosen profession.
Mexico does not have an even remotely equivalent regulatory regime for its trucking industry and drivers.
"The onus is on Mexico to raise the safety, security and environmental standards for their trucking industry," added Spencer. "We should not allow ourselves to be harassed or blackmailed into lowering ours."
Mexico first imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports close to two years ago. OOIDA contends the legality of the original tariffs should have been challenged.
Spencer noted, "Succumbing to Mexico's bullying provides a handy attack plan for them and other governments in future trade disputes."
Despite the tariffs, based on numbers released by the U.S. Department of Transportation in March 2011, truck-based trade with Mexico surged by 27.6 percent last year to a total of $320.3 billion, and the bulk of this increase was from U.S. goods going to Mexico.
"They need to stop placating Mexico's government and start fighting for the Americans they are supposed to represent," said Spencer. "If they follow through with this, the Administration will be jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of Americans."
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 151,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the Greater Kansas City, Mo., area.
Web site: www.ooida.com
SOURCE Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
Letter from Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
April 15, 2011
The Honorable Anne S. Ferro
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20590
RE: (Docket No. FMCSA-2011-0097)
Dear Administrator Ferro:
I am writing to express my serious concern with the Administration’s latest plans to allow Mexican trucking companies to operate long haul in the United States. I believe the Administration is not launching a pilot program, but rather starting the full liberalization of cross-border trucking, without having fully addressed the concerns raised by Members of Congress surrounding safety, security, and job impacts that will necessarily arise.
I have cautioned in the past that it will be difficult for Congress to support a cross-border trucking program that would jeopardize the safety of the traveling public and that would be an assault on American jobs. I continue to believe that the U.S. should renegotiate U.S. NAFTA Annex I (I-U-21), the U.S. commitment to liberalize cross-border trucking, and thus eliminate the requirement to open our borders to Mexican trucks. This would remedy all the truck safety, security, and job issues associated with this long standing trade dispute. A successful renegotiation of NAFTA is a better way to eliminate the retaliatory and illegal tariffs which Mexico slapped on U.S. goods in response to termination of the last pilot program.
Instead, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had decided to move ahead with a new pilot program to allow Mexican trucking companies to compete fully in the U.S. market. Unfortunately, it would seem that the proposal to move ahead exceeds the agency’s authority under the law.
FMCSA is required by law to first test granting authority to Mexican carriers under a pilot program that complies with Section 31315 of title 49, United States Code. This section mandates that any pilot program must allow for both a sufficient length of time (no more than three years) and adequate participation in order for DOT to evaluate the effects of a pilot program on safety. Under the proposed pilot program, FMCSA will grant Mexican carriers the same provisional operating authority it grants any new U.S. motor carrier seeking interstate authority. After 18 months, this authority becomes permanent indefinitely, provided the carrier does not have an egregious safety record or a lapse in insurance. This permanent authority will not be revoked - even if Congress or FMCSA terminates the pilot program. Further, carriers who participated in the previous FMCSA-initiated pilot program will get credit for the number of months they operated in the U.S. when they re-apply under this new program. This means that some carriers will receive permanent authority almost immediately.
Further, Section 31315 requires DOT to immediately revoke the participation of any carrier or driver who fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the pilot program. I question how FMCSA can fulfill this requirement if carriers have permanent authority once they pass a Compliance Review after 18 months, and are not required to meet any other specific terms and conditions.
As outlined in the Federal Register notice, FMCSA inspectors will check all participating trucks when they cross the border – for the first three months of the program. After such time, carriers will be subject to scrutiny and inspection at the same rate as carriers who remain in the commercial zone are currently inspected. I fail to see how expanding the areas where uninspected carriers can travel from just the border zones to travel throughout the United States would achieve an equivalent level of safety, as required by law.
FMCSA also plans to use Highway Trust Fund dollars to purchase Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) for Mexican carriers, and pay for monitoring. The agency spent $1.25 million on EOBRs for 27 carriers under the previous pilot program – and the Mexican trucking companies were allowed to keep the devices when the program ended. I strongly support the requirement that carriers use EOBRs to demonstrate compliance with hours of service laws, particularly since Mexico does not hold its drivers to the same stringent hours of service standards that apply to U.S. carriers. However, it is outrageous that U.S. truckers, through the Federal fuel tax, will subsidize the cost of doing business for these Mexican carriers.
I appreciate the specific requirements FMCSA has outlined in the Federal Register notice to try to bridge the gap between U.S. and Mexican standards regarding commercial driver’s licenses, medical qualifications, and drug and alcohol testing under the latest pilot program. However, comparing standards on paper and drawing conclusions that they are comparable does not ensure safety. We must be confident that these standards are being enforced by Mexican authorities, and that drivers are held to these standards without exception.
Finally, FMCSA states that the U.S. will not grant operating authority to Mexican carriers unless there is comparable access afforded to U.S. carriers by the Mexican Government. Unfortunately, the reality is that American trucking firms are unlikely to enter the Mexican market given concerns over hijackings and other situations that would place U.S. drivers and company assets at too high a risk.
I am certain you share my commitment to ensuring the safety of American roads and the preservation of American jobs. I expect that the concerns outlined in this letter will be addressed and that the final agreement reached with Mexico will further these goals. Thank you for your attention to my concerns.