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2 Mexican truck companies denied in NAFTA U.S. trucking pilot program

Written by Steve Gursten Posted June 18th, 2013

FMCSA investigation failed to verify that the companies had adequate drug and alcohol testing policies compliant with the FMCSRs

Yesterday, we discussed the United States-Mexico pilot trucking program, which allows certain Mexican motor carriers to operate in the United States after passing screening by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

This pilot program, though innovative, also begs a lot of questions:

Are the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) filters enough to detect dangerous motor carriers coming into America?

Is the FMCSA doing enough to safeguard the roads from new, potentially dangerous carriers who will cut corners on safety?

Does the FMCSA even have the manpower to monitor these new carriers when there are already so many domestic trucking carriers and bus companies who consistently violate existing mandatory safety rules?

Well, one can hope. And there is some promising news to report in this regard…so far.

In mid-April, two Mexican trucking companies failed safety audits that are required for admission in the pilot program, according to an article on thetrucker.com: FMCSA lists two Mexico-based carriers who failed safety audits last year.

The two companies, Transportes Mor SA de CV and Adriana de Leon Amaro, failed the safety audits because the FMCSA was not able to verify that the carriers had adequate drug and alcohol testing procedures in place for their drivers. The Mexican motor carriers admitted in the pilot are required to have such procedures in place. They also must comply with U.S. Safety Regulations.

Under the current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, all motor carriers must test employees before they begin operating trucks (§ 382.301). And after they begin employment, all commercial drivers must be subjected to random substance testing (§ 382.305).

After any truck accident involving injury or that causes death, the truck driver must also be tested for substances (§ 382.303), and whenever the trucking company has reasonable suspicion to suspect that the truck driver might be using illegal substances (§ 382.307).

These last two provisions are regularly violated, both by company owners and safety managers who know the truck driver will test positive, and tell then them to go disappear. It is better to pay a fine than it is to face a much larger claim by an experienced truck attorney for punitive damages in a subsequent lawsuit for injuries or wrongful death, after all.

In these cases involving the two Mexican trucking companies, the FMCSA was unable to verify that these two motor carriers had such procedures in place.

After the motor carriers failed that portion of the safety audit, investigators ceased investigating.  Thus, there was no verification as to whether the Mexican companies maintained hours-of-service compliance, adequate insurance, etc.  Because of the early end to the investigation, the trucks themselves were not investigated either.  It would have been very informative to see how these trucks were maintained, and if they would have passed inspection.

These two carriers are the first Mexican-domiciled truck companies to be denied entrance into the pilot program.

This development is reassuring.

As an experienced truck accident attorney, I have certainly criticized the FMCSA from time to time, especially as I write routinely of terrible bus companies with serial violations, and as bad trucking companies change names but otherwise go on to business as usual.

Inspections still are far too sparse and inadequate, and events like RoadCheck are only the tip of the iceberg as the vast majority of dangerous commercial trucks slip under the FMCSA’s radar and continue to go undetected. That is, until they eventually seriously hurt or kill someone.

But this is one situation where the FMCSA was vigilant.  As a result, the agency has helped maintain the integrity of our highways by denying a dangerous trucking company from driving alongside the public.

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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