The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has come out strongly against a pilot program described by Acting U.S. Secretary of Transportation Maria Cino that would allow Mexican truckers beyond the 20-mile border zone to which they now are restricted.
Cino’s comments appeared in an interview published in the July 24 issue of Traffic World magazine. The magazine quoted Cino as saying the proposed one-year pilot program would involve about 100 Mexican motor carriers and could be unveiled by the end of 2006.
OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer called the pilot program a “mistake.”
“Without having fully complied with congressional directives, a move by the U.S. Department of Transportation to open U.S. roadways to Mexican trucks puts the interest of foreign trade and cheap labor ahead of everything else, including highway safety, homeland security and the well being of hard-working Americans,” Spencer said.
U.S. law currently restricts Mexican and Canadian trucks and drivers to carrying international shipments between their home countries and individual points in the United States. They cannot yet move loads from point to point within U.S. borders, as supporters of the North American Free Trade Agreeement long have advocated.
“Not a single state enforces the directives established by Congress in 2001 regarding Mexican motor carriers,” Spencer said, referring to the law that lays out specific criteria for the U.S. and Mexican governments to establish before American roadways can be fully opened to Mexican trucks.
The legislation also imposed comprehensive safety requirements on Mexican trucking companies before they are granted conditional authority and allowed into the United States. Among other requirements, safety exams must verify that Mexican trucking firms have drug and alcohol-testing programs, proof of insurance and qualified drivers with clean driving records.
Besides safety and security concerns, issues that remain to be settled involve immigration, customs, reduced tax revenue for roads, and the impact of Mexican competition on the U.S. trucking industry and the livelihoods of American truck drivers, Spencer said.