Congress and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. are urging President Clinton to maintain U.S./Mexican trucking restrictions until he can “guarantee the American people that Mexican trucks can and will operate safety in the United States.”
More than 225 members of Congress have sighed letters to the President regarding serious, on-going safety problems with Mexican trucking operations uncovered by a U.S. General Account Office investigation.
“If we do not address these and other safety problems now, all states, not just California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, will be at risk from unqualified, tired Mexican drivers and unsafe, overweight trucks,” the congressional letter to President Clinton states.
And according to OOIDA President Jim Johnston, “the Mexican government still has a long way to go in developing safety standards and enforcement systems that are equivalent to those in the U.S. Right now,” he added, “there is no enforcement program in Mexico. That places the entire burden [for safety] on the U.S. side of the border.”
The GAO investigation reached the same conclusion. Spokesmen say that a U.S. funded training program - launched more than two years ago - was designed to train 285 Mexican inspectors who would train other enforcement officials in Mexico. But as of late 1996, only 50 of these inspectors were still employed by the Mexican truck inspection agency and no regular inspections had ever taken place in Mexico.
The report also states that a “high-level Mexican government official told [the GAO] that [Mexico’s] emphasis in inspecting trucks will be ones coming into Mexico rather than on northbound trucks leaving Mexico.”
As a result of these findings, OOIDA is urging Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater and the Clinton administration to maintain existing limitations on Mexican trucks traveling in the U.S. “Safety should be the top priority in policymaking,” Johnston said.