Two agencies of the U.S. Department of Transportation issued safety-related rules last month to implement pieces of last year’s compromise on entry of Mexican carriers into the United States. Rules issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration set new safety requirements for Mexican motor carriers operating in the United States and require that all motor carrier safety inspectors, auditors and investigators be certified. The rulemakings are among the actions DOT is taking to prepare for opening the border for Mexican truck and bus operations, which is expected by mid-year.
Under the new rules, Mexican carriers applying to operate anywhere in the United States must have a distinctive USDOT number, have their vehicles pass a safety inspection, and undergo intensified safety monitoring during an 18-month provisional period. They also must provide supplemental safety certifications as part of the application process. Mexican commercial vehicles will be permitted to enter the United States only at commercial border crossings and only when a certified motor carrier safety inspector is on duty.
The rules also require a Mexican carrier operating in the United States to have a drug and alcohol-testing program, a system of compliance with U.S. federal hours-of-service requirements, adequate data and safety management systems, and valid insurance with a U.S.-registered insurance company. The carrier’s ability to meet these requirements will be verified by a safety audit conducted by qualified U.S. inspectors prior to receiving provisional authority to operate to and from the U.S.
At least half of these safety audits, which are to be conducted by qualified inspectors, must take place in Mexico. Also, all Mexican carriers granted provisional operating authority will undergo full safety compliance reviews during the 18-month provisional period.
In addition to these measures, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed rules and procedures that manufacturers would be required to follow to retrofit vehicles with certification labels. That proposal complements FMCSA’s proposal that all trucks and buses operating in the United States carry labels certifying that they meet U.S. federal motor vehicle safety standards at the time of manufacture.