As the U.S. trucking industry voiced its concern over the influx of thousands of Mexican trucks and drivers being allowed to operate within its borders, only nine Mexican motor carriers have obtained U.S. operating authority since the beginning of the U.S. Mexico Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program more than two years ago.
As of January 2013, these nine carriers were operating 17 commercial vehicles with a total of 20 drivers and had entered the United States 1,411 times with one carrier being responsible for 994 of those crossings.
Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Safety Measurement System (SMS), carriers receive roadside inspections which are entered into the SMS which allows the FMCSA to identify unsafe carriers, prioritize for possible intervention and to monitor those carriers to see if their safety and compliance problems are improving. Under the cross border program, Mexican carriers are also subjected to these inspections.
As of January 2013, out of these nine authorized Mexican carriers, the highest vehicle out-of service rate received was 27% and the average driver out-of-service rate received was 5%. Compared to the U.S. with 2012 data, the average vehicle out-of-service rate was 20.8% and the average driver out-of-service rate was 4.9%.
The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) is an FMCSA initiative to improve CMV safety based on seven basics:
- Unsafe Driving
- Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance
- Driver Fitness
- Controlled Substance and Alcohol
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance
- Crash Indicator
Many within the U.S. trucking industry voiced their concerns over the pilot program by explaining that it would open the door to tens of thousands of Mexican trucks and drivers operating unsafe vehicles into the country; a direct violation of the fifth CSA basic.
Although all nine carriers have been in violation of the Vehicle Maintenance basic, it is largely from inoperative lights to improper brake adjustments with five carriers violating the HOS rules, three carriers with violations within the Driver Fitness basic and one carrier violating the CSA basic of Unsafe Driving.
One carrier in particular, GCC TRANSPORTE SA DE CV, is the most operational carrier out of the nine with 994 U.S. crossings and having received a vehicle out-of-service rating of 27%. However, this carrier's most violated CSA basic may not be what you think.
With a driver out-of-service rate of 0%, GCC TRANSPORTE SA DE CV was also the carrier with the one Unsafe Driving violation which consisted of going 6-10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Although it is also coming dangerously close to exceeding the intervention threshold under the Vehicle Maintenance basic, this carrier has actually crossed the FMCSA's threshold for the Driver Fitness basic.
The general intervention threshold for the Driver Fitness is 80% and as of January 2013, this carrier had reached 83.4%, raising a red flag to the FMCSA. The Driver Fitness basic pertains to the operation of CMVs by drivers who are unfit to operate a CMV due to lack of training, experience, or medical qualifications under the FMCSR Parts 383 and 391.
After a total of 2,896 driver inspections and 1,747 vehicle inspections, GCC TRANSPORTE SA DE CV, which operates eight vehicles and eight drivers, received a total of 67 violations under the Driver Fitness with 64 of those violations shown as the CMV being operated by a Non-English speaking driver.
FMCSR §391.11(b)(2) outlines the general qualifications for CMV drivers and clearly states:
"A person is qualified to drive a motor vehicle if he can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records."
At this point it is clear that the U.S. trucking industry's fear of being overtaken by thousands of Mexican trucks fell short of realism and the top CSA violation by the nine carriers thus far has nothing to do with "dangerous" equipment on our interstate system but instead, sending up to eight drivers into the United States in violation of a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation pertaining to the English language.