FMCSA responds to law’s demands on Mexican trucks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has signaled the Bush administration’s determination to push a pilot project on expanded Mexican carrier operations in the United States by publishing information required by Congress before the program could move forward.

Late last month, Congress enacted emergency funding legislation that imposed additional burdens on the Bush administration before it could move forward with the project. In the June 8 Federal Register, FMCSA provided additional details and disclosures regarding its planned demonstration project and gave the public just 20 days to comment.

FMCSA announced in the notice that the Department of Transportation had appointed a panel of three transportation experts to assess the safety performance of Mexico-domiciled carriers operating beyond the border commercial zone in the United States:

  • Mortimer Downey, former deputy transportation secretary;
  • Kenneth Mead, former DOT inspector general; and
  • James Kolbe, former U.S. congressman from Arizona.
  • In addition, FMCSA has asked the Research and Innovative Technology Administration’s Transportation Safety Institute (TSI) to provide independent management of the project. The evaluation will determine whether Mexican carriers differ from U.S. carriers in areas such as crashes, unsafe driving, use of controlled substances and out-of-service rates.

    The 18-page Federal Register notice includes several tables of information and data responding to the congressional requirements. One table outlines the regulations in three areas where Mexican regulations and procedures are being accepted as meeting U.S. requirements. And several tables relate to the pre-authorization safety audits (PASAs) that Mexican carriers must undergo before participating in the demonstration project. One of those tables provides data about each applicant’s PASA.

    According to the details provided by FMCSA, 107 Mexican carriers had applied for participation in the program as of May 31. But only 24 of those carriers had had any vehicles inspected for operation in the United States. The total number of vehicles inspected as of May 31 was 117. All but two of the 24 carriers had fewer than 10 vehicles inspected.

    The largest fleet to undergo inspections was Servicios de Transportacion Jaguar with 36 vehicles; it currently operates in the commercial zones in the Laredo, Texas, area. The next largest was Juan Martin Ramirez Amez, which operates in the San Diego area, with 17.

    For a copy of FMCSA’s June 8 Federal Register notice, click here.