Cross-border trucking needs improvement, audit says

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U.S. Department of Transportation auditors of President Bush’s cross-border trucking program with Mexico found additional improvement needed in two of eight areas.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration must improve the quality of data used to monitor traffic convictions among Mexican CDL holders and ensure the agency has adequate capacity to inspect Mexican vehicles, the DOT’s Office of Inspector General reported.

The OIG report, released last week, is the annual review required by Section 350c of the 2002 Department of Transportation Appropriations Act, which deals with Mexican carriers operating beyond the commercial zone.

The FMCSA also needs to continue addressing two areas outside the Section 350 criteria, the report said:

  • The FMCSA should fully implement its policy on ensuring Mexican carrier compliance with federal motor carrier manufacturing safety standards, the report said. The OIG suggested inspectors could check the vehicle identification number to find the manufacturer year, but the FMCSA has not issued guidance requiring inspectors to check the vehicle number and record it.
  • Also, the FMCSA should continue working on Mexican carrier drug and alcohol testing issues, the report said. It’s unclear whether sufficient controls are in place to ensure that valid specimens are being collected in Mexico before being sent to a certified lab, the auditors said.
  • “These improvements are needed more urgently than ever because Mexican motor carriers may be granted long-haul authority in the near future,” the report said. However, it also said the FMCSA “should address any issue specific to the demonstration project before the project begins.”

    Asked for a clarification of the timeline, the FMCSA referred questions to the OIG, which did not respond by press time. The FMCSA said, however, that it agreed with the recommendations and had presented action plans to meet them with dates ranging from Aug. 30 to Dec. 31.

    This report is separate from the upcoming audit of the cross-border program required by a 2007 law.