Cross-border monitoring to begin this month

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Starting later this month, trucks crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a new demonstration program will have equipment on board that allows them to be monitored as they pick up and deliver their loads.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced its timeframe Nov. 5, noting the decision to require the installation of satellite tracking technology on trucks in the program was made after members of Congress expressed a desire to know whether participants are complying with federal safety and trade laws. FMCSA first announced its plans to monitor participants in late September.

The satellite-based technology, developed by San Diego-based Qualcomm Incorporated, will be used to track trucks by vehicle number and company only – no driver information will be collected. According to FMCSA, the technology will help continue to ensure that trucks operating as part of the program are complying with the agency’s safety standards and U.S. trade laws.

The agency initially will spend about $367,000 to outfit all trucks from the United States and Mexico that take part in the program, and use the information gathered from the equipment to ensure trucks comply with hours-of-service laws and rules that govern the trips into and out of the country. The GPS-based technology also will allow real-time tracking of truck location, documenting every international-border and state-line crossing.

The systems will be installed at no cost to the participating trucking companies – it is not required on U.S. trucking companies operating solely within the United States, said John Hill, FMCSA administrator.

In September, the Department of Transportation began a cross-border trucking demonstration project that will allow up to 100 U.S. trucking companies to operate in Mexico and up to 100 Mexican trucking companies to operate beyond commercial zones in the United States. The future of the program is in jeopardy due to pending legislation that would cut off federal funds for the demonstration.