U.S. calls for safety monitoring system to police Mexican trucks

by Canadian Shipper

The U.S.’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) yesterday proposed changes that would allow Mexican trucks to operate on U.S. highways.

First off, the FMCSA calls for the establishing of a safety monitoring system and enforcement regime.

That system, to be called the Safety Monitoring System and Compliance Initiative for Mexican Motor Carriers Operating in the U.S., would help determine whether Mexican carriers conducting business in the U.S. comply with applicable safety regulations and conduct safe operations.

Further to that, the FMCSA calls for the establishing of an application form and process for Mexican carriers seeking U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) authority to operate in U.S. municipalities and commercial zones adjacent to Mexico in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California only.

Its third over-riding proposal calls for the set up of an application form and process for Mexican carriers seeking DOT authority to operate beyond municipalities and commercial zones at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mexican motor carriers seeking operating authority would be required to provide information about their safety practices, and require carriers to certify compliance with U.S. motor carrier safety regulations.

An application would be necessary for a Mexican carrier to obtain a DOT number: that number would allow that company to operate in the U.S.

As the FMCSA makes plain: Mexican carriers will be subject to the same safety standards that now apply to U.S. and Canadian carriers.

An important third rule would require, as a condition of registration, that all Mexican new entrant carriers undergo at least one satisfactory safety audit within 18 months of receiving authority to operate in the U.S.

The purpose of the safety audit would be to evaluate a Mexican carrier’s safety performance and basic safety management controls, the agency says, adding that it would accomplish this by reviewing information about the carrier, including records related to driver medical qualifications, driver hours of service, drug and alcohol testing, and vehicle inspection, maintenance and repair.

According to the proposed rule, if an audit determines that a carrier does not satisfactorily exercise basic safety management controls, its operating authority would be suspended and it would be required to cease operation in the U.S.

Canada fits into this changing of the rulebook. The FMCSA, it explains, is also developing a comparable safety monitoring system for all new entrant to the industry, whether they be U.S.-based or Canada-based carriers.

“These rulemakings will help ensure that all Mexican trucks and drivers entering the United States will be subject to the same safety standards that apply to U.S. and Canadian carriers,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

According to a timetable outlined at a meeting with representatives from the Government of Mexico on Mar. 22, the U.S. will permit authorized Mexican carriers to operate throughout the U.S. before the end of this year.

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