As the Federal Highway Safety Administration was conducting a public listening session to gauge the publics reaction to raising truck size and weights on U.S. highways, Mexico’s 5 year size and weight authorization known as NOM-012 was nearing the end of it’s 5 year authorization.
NOM-012, published in 2008 allowed some combination units to operate at gross weights up to 180,000 pounds.
However, since April of 2012, there have been some horrific accidents in Mexico involving these extremely heavy double trailer combinations that have claimed 40 lives, the latest being the explosion of the propane tanker in Ecatepec on May 7.
Because of this, truckers, truckers association and the public have been very vocal about the need to reduce the maximum allowable weight of these combination rigs and to perhaps restrict the hazardous materials to carriage in a single trailer.
Last week, The Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT) ratified the Official Mexican Standard (NOM) 012 weights and dimensions in trucking that was first published in April 2008, while deferring to a later date, renewing the regulation with lower weights. The SCT did let stand a reduction from 80 tons to 75.5 tons gross weight which was put in place after one of the fatal accidents.
They’re awaiting a study being conducted by a distinguished panel of experts in the field of transportation that was recently appointed in the wake of the propane tanker explosion. The panel is comprised of experts from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the National Polytechnical Institute and the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, it is estimated that the report could be ready in as little as two months, followed by the issuance of a new standard for the Mexican trucking industry.
“Last Thursday there was a meeting with the Committee for Standardization and it was decided to maintain the current standard. After listening to law enforcement, business organizations and others who were present, we’ll work use the study to make a decision in the future, “said CANACAR President Jose Refugio Munoz.
According to Muñoz López, at the meeting, a representative of the National Association of Private Transport (ANTP) unsuccessfully tried to promote the idea of maintaining the extra weight (4.5 tonnes) because it provides efficiency to their members, including companies like Grupo Modelo , Cemex and Bimbo.
The president of the National Confederation of Mexican Carriers (CONATRAM), Rep. Elijah Rame, countered that such units are the prime cause of accidents and deaths.
The argument in Mexico closely parallels that of the participants in the FHWA listening session last week in Washington DC. Big business wants the heavier size and weights being proposed citing efficiency and less traffic on the roadways, while those opposed cite big business wanting to push more freight for the same rates and driver pay.
The study proposed by FHWA is looking at three configurations. Those are in current use: the five-axle, 80,000 pound gross vehicle weight configuration, a five-axle, 88,000 thousand pound configuration; and a six-axle, 97,000 pounds gross vehicle weight configuration.
This was the first of four sessions the agency has scheduled to look into this issue.
Opponents of Mexican trucks and the Cross Border Pilot Program have been known to use this issue in their opposition to the trucks and the program. However, the NOM-012 size and weight rules applies to trucks operating within Mexico. Mexican trucks crossing the border into and operating in the United States are required to abide by our size and weight rules which mandates a maximum of 80,000 gross vehicle weight.