More than a year after the first Mexican truck rolled into the United States under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s long-haul, cross-border pilot program, the agency has approved the tenth carrier.
Grupo Behr has received the authority after the FMCSA earlier put its application to participate on hold due to safety concerns. It was the first to pass a Pre-Authorization Safety Audit in 2011, however, protests from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Teamsters Union and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety over the carrier’s safety delayed the decision.
In a Federal Register notice published earlier this week was the information that the FMCSA has now issued provisional operating authority. It said that since the company filed for authority it has improved its safety record, noting its driver out-of-service rate is 2% while its vehicle out-of-service rate is 14%.
This latest decision follows a lawsuit filed last July by OOIDA against the agency and the U.S. DOT to stop the cross-border program while a separate lawsuit was filed over it in September by the Teamsters and Public Citizen. Oral arguments in the OOIDA lawsuit were heard in December, just about the same time they were heard in the other suit. A decision has yet to be issued in either case.
Since the cross-border program began, the FMCSA reports there have been a little more than 1,400 long-haul crossings into the U.S. by Mexican carriers and just over 550 inspections. The number is far short of the amount FMCSA earlier said is needed to get an accurate measure of how successful the program has been. Most of the moves have been into border states rather than into the interior of the U.S.
There are another six Mexican carriers waiting to get their authority while another 14 have had their applications dismissed by FMCSA or they have been voluntarily withdrawn.
Long-haul cross-border trucking between the United State and Mexico is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, negotiated between the two countries, in addition to Canada, in the 1990’s. Earlier attempts for the trucking provisions were either stalled or eventually stopped by Congress.
This latest attempt by the FMCSA comes after Mexico slapped retaliatory tariffs on some U.S. goods for failing to have a cross-border program in place. Supporters of the program say it’s needed to avoid a further trade war with Mexico. Critics contend the program allows in unsafe trucks and drivers and will result in fewer jobs for U.S.-based truckers.