New Study, Report Card and Poll Point to Mexican Truck Safety Neglect




In February 2007, the administration announced plans to conduct a “pilot program” allowing up to 1,000 Mexico-domiciled trucks to travel beyond the current border zones. In 2001, Congress had passed legislation that put a premium on upgrading inspection facilities, computer databases and other safety-related requirements before opening the southern border for long-haul trucks. The Bush administration has still not finished implementing the safety requirements in that law, but decided this year to rush ahead with the pilot program in an attempt to open the border.


Analysis of Pilot Program, Sec. 6901 Compliance

Pilot Program Report Card

Mexican Border and DOT Pilot Program Chronology

Public Opinion Poll Results

Hearings in the U.S. House and Senate, featuring testimony from Advocates and Public Citizen, identified serious safety problems with the program. On May 24, Congress approved provisions in a supplemental Iraq War funding bill to ensure that any pilot program to allow Mexico-domiciled trucks full access to the nation’s highways would not circumvent safety standards or congressional oversight. The provisions ordered the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is responsible for implementing the administration’s cross-border pilot program, to obey a number of requirements that the agency is still ignoring.

These provisions, signed into law by the president, require: the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to follow all applicable rules and regulations concerning the formulation of pilot programs and crossborder
trucking; Mexico-based trucking companies and trucks to comply with all applicable U.S. laws; and the administration to ensure that the operation of these trucks within the United States would not have a negative
impact on safety.

The groups accused the administration of brazenly pressing forward without meeting many of the safety provisions directed by Congress. Less than three weeks after the legislation was signed into law, FMCSA published a notice in the Federal Register on June 8 that in effect declared that the agency had met all of the congressionally mandated safety requirements to open the southern border.

The report released in June 2007, however, identified every provision of law that FMCSA has failed to comply with, including: failure to provide sufficient opportunity for public notice and comments; failure to provide the
public with information about the pilot project; failure to comply with the requirements of §350 of the FY2002 DOT Appropriations Act on the safety of cross-border trucking; failure to comply with requirements of the pilot program law to test innovative approaches and alternative regulations under 49 USC §31315(c); failure of FMCSA to keep its promise to check every truck every time for compliance; and failure to establish criteria that
are subject to monitoring during the pilot program.

(UPDATE) Last night, September 11, the United States Senate adopted by a wide, strong and bipartisan vote of 75 yeas to 23 nays an important amendment to the FY2008 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) spending bill (H.R. 3074) that prohibits the use of any funds to carry out the cross-border Mexican-domiciled truck pilot program. The amendment was sponsored by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA). Identical language, with bi-partisan support, was included in the House version of the DOT funding bill in July. Now the bill goes to conference to reconcile other differences in the House and Senate bills. The Administration strongly opposes the amendment and will work to strip it from the final conference bill.

A weak amendment offered by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to counter the Dorgan/Specter amendment was defeated by 69 nays to 29 yeas.

Senate Appropriations Amendment Fact Sheet - September 7, 2007

Oppose the Cornyn Amendment to H.R. 3074

Mexican Border and DOT Pilot Program Chronology

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