1 million truck violations cited at border crossing? The rest of the story

The rest of the story emerges about the El Paso times story we wrote about earlier this week, concerning the thousands of violations reported by Texas DPS inspectors at two commercial crossings in El Paso Texas.

While we have some concerns about the number of violations reported over 4.5 years, the Times story claims 1.2 million inspections were done at the Zaragosa and Bridge of the Americas in El Paso, we could only find 811,574 inspections reported on the FMCSA NAFTA STATISTICS pages.

Some have suggested that the numbers are flawed considering the man hours that would need to be expended to come up with this number of inspections in the time frame indicated. That’s possible but highly improbable considering the methods used and the manpower on site.

Section 350(c) required, among other things, state inspection/weigh stations be established at all commercial crossing along the southern border, to monitor and inspect incoming Mexican trucks, especially those participating in the 2007 cross border program. The defunding of that program by the Obama administration as political payback to the Teamsters, however, did  not defund these inspection facilities. Contrary to what opponents of cross border trucking and Mexican trucks would have you believe, 100% of the trucks crossing our southern border are INSPECTED at these facilities. 350(c) mandates that these stations to be in operation during the hours the commercial crossing are open.

In El Paso, The Zaragosa bridge is open Monday – Friday 0600 to Midnight, or 18 hours. On Saturday, they are open from 0800 to 1600 and closed on Sunday.

The Bridge of the Americas hours of operation is Monday – Friday, 0600-1800 or 12 hours. Saturday hours are 0600-1400, closed on Sundays.

The hours the inspection stations where this data was supposedly gleaned from are required under law, to maintain the same schedule.

The Texas DPS commercial vehicle inspectors perform inspections under the CVSA North American Inspection Standards, although Texas being Texas, has been known to put additional, more stringent, some would say “anal” requirements to their inspections.

There are six levels of CVSA inspections, although Levels I-III are pertinent to this discussion.

  • LEVEL I   North American Standard Inspection
  • LEVEL II  Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection
  • LEVEL III Driver/Credential Inspection
  • LEVEL IV Special Inspections
  • LEVEL V Vehicle-Only Inspection
The Texas DPS uses the California model of inspections. DPS troopers don’t actually do Level I inspections, either roadside or in the inspection facilities. This is left to state employees who are CVSA certified truck inspectors. Each trooper working a static inspection station has anywhere from 2 to 6 of these inspectors  on the ground visually inspecting trucks as they cross the inspection area, pulling them aside at random or for cause for inspections, generally Level II, From personal observations of these operations, you’ll generally have 3 or 4 troopers manning these inspection facilities with 6 or more truck inspectors working the bays. This doesn’t take into consideration the participation of federal FMCSA inspectors, who appear at random to work alongside the state  inspectors.
So with that manpower available, the number of inspections stated are entirely possible in the time frame indicated. A Level II takes no more than 15 minutes, unless violations are found.
 Capt. Jessie Mendez, who oversees the border truck safety inspection program and inspectors for the Texas Department of Public Safety/Texas Highway Patrol stated;
“Taking trucks out of service means they were not allowed to proceed beyond the state inspection stations. They are not allowed to go onto the streets of El Paso.”
While the violations may seem severe, such as trucks sidelined for  brakes that were out of adjustment, flat tires, defective stop lamps, improper axle position, improper torsion bar, damaged or leaking brake hoses, and air suspension pressure loss, others are ridiculous such as drivers being put out of service for  driving without their prescription eyeglasses or carrying and extra pair, all arcane rules contained within FMCSA rules, but rarely enforced otherwise.

[pullquote]”The number of violations for the trucks from Mexico is in line with U.S. industry standards.They are either no worse than U.S. trucks and better in some cases.”- Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso[/pullquote]

Texas though has special little quirks they write warnings for, which still show up on a carriers CSA/SMS matrix. For instance, a mudflap with a small tear in it will get you a violation. An air or electrical cord that shows evidence of having bounced off the deck plate is a violation. And the new favorite of the DPS, not having spare electrical fuses or breakers in your glove box.
So while the violations on their face may seem serious, in many times they’re the opposite, but warnings are given to justify requests for additional federal funding.
But the truth doesn’t matter to some of those opposed to Mexican trucks and Mexico in general, one of those being the irrelevant little man who for now, is President of the Teamsters Union, James P. Hoffa.
Hoffa, in his response to this article said;
“This report confirms what we have been saying for years – Mexican trucking companies and their fleets are not held to the same stringent safety standards as American carriers. Until they meet every safety, training and environmental standard that our trucking companies meet, we should not allow these unsafe Mexican trucks to drive freely through our country.”
As we said, Hoffa is a foolish, irrelevant little man whose opinion on this issue holds little weight, as evidence has proven his statement to be a totally false distortion of the facts.
But I did get a good chuckle reading the response from TEAMSTERNATION, an anonymous blog maintained by who knows who.
The blogger states;


Unfortunately, Pickett is exhibiting the same cluelessness about the dangers of Mexican trucks as the U.S. Department of Transportation, which wants to open the borders to them in a month or two.

The Teamsters will see about that.

They refer of course to State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, who said the number of violations for the trucks from Mexico is in line with U.S. industry standards. Rep. Pickett is absolutely correct in his assessment.
Pickett went on to state;
“They are either no worse than U.S. trucks or better in some cases,”
And people, remember this. These trucks that were inspected were entirely Mexican drayage rigs with OP-2MX authority to operate within the 25 mile commercial zone. These are the older trucks used by the Mexicans, the same as US owner operators who operate out of our ports and rail heads in the United States. These are not the new or late model trucks that are used to haul freight long haul within Mexico and soon within the United States. There is absolutely no similarities in one or the other.