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FMCSA ends controversial pilot program with Mexican carriers – by granting 13 pilot companies full operating authority

Written by Steve Gursten Posted November 5th, 2014

The Mexican trucking companies operating in a U.S. pilot program under a NAFTA agreement have been given the green light

NAFTA-trucking-pilot-program-u.s.-Mexico-300x199You may recall a previous blog post, where we discussed a highly controversial pilot program allowing Mexican trucking companies to operate in the U.S. through provisions in the NAFTA agreement. To summarize, the pilot allowed approved Mexican carriers to operate in the U.S. for up to three years. The companies had to meet FMCSA safety standards to maintain their temporary authority. Over the course of time, a total of 13 Mexican truck lines were approved to participate in the pilot.

That’s recently changed. The Mexican carriers that have been providing long-distance, cross-border service under the pilot program will move to normal operating status.

The pilot program officially expired on October, 14. So, the FMCSA decided to grant the pilot companies full operating authority pending final reports on the program from an advisory committee and the Transportation Department’s Inspector General.

The agency acknowledged the pending final reports to the DOT. “In the interim, based upon successful completion of the program, as well as a review of safety and inspection data collected during the program, the Department has converted the 13 participants to provisional or standard operating authority, allowing those carriers to continue to operate in the United States,” the agency said in a statement.

Currently, the carriers in the now defunct pilot program are running 55 commercial vehicles with either permanent or provisional authority.

Mexican truck companies in the U.S.: Mixed results on safety – Not if you talk to a Texas lawyer!

The most recent FMCSA report regarding the carriers revealed mixed results on safety.

The report shows these trucks have crossed the border more than 27,000times and U.S. officials have conducted 5,408 inspections. Several of the Mexican carriers have no driver or vehicle out-of-service orders; which is excellent, and is actually better than many dangerous domestic operations.

However, it’s not all good news. The largest Mexican operation, Tijuana-based Servicio de Transporte de Internacionale, which currently has 30 trucks and 17 drivers, has a vehicle out of service rate of 9.63% and a driver out of service rate of .13%. The vehicle out of service rate is high and alarming. This is part of the larger problem of who protects U.S. citizens in regions most likely to be impacted by trucks coming in from Mexico.

All three founding attorneys of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable have worked on terrible truck accidents in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, and the findings are consistent with our own experience (most of the cases involved other significant problems as well, and also trucks without insurance).  This was a big political issue when I was President of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Litigation Group in 2007-08, and it remains a big safety issue for people who are involved in injury-related crashes with Mexican trucks coming into the U.S.

Hopefully, these “newly” authorized Mexican transportation carriers will follow the mandatory safety rules and put the utmost focus on safety.

And hopefully federal and state authorities, including the FMCSA, will put increased scrutiny on these Mexican trucks coming into the U.S., at least until they have proven that they will put the utmost focus on safety and protecting people on the roads on both sides of the border.

Related information:

Two Mexican trucking companies denied in NAFTA U.S. trucking pilot program

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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