Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico concludes – Participants granted Standard Operating Authority by FMCSA

In a surprising but not unanticipated move, the FMCSA granted the 13 Mexican motor carriers who participated recently concluded Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico Standard Operating Authority meaning they can continue to conduct business in the United States beyond the commercial zones as they have been doing for the past 36 months.

And as anticipated, upon conclusion of the Pilot Program, the two organizations who have unsuccessfully attempted to keep a handful of safe, compliant Mexican carriers and their drivers out of the United States were quick with the press releases decrying the Pilot Program as a failure.

James Hoffa, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters came out with a surprisingly muted statement. Missing was his usual fiery and totally untrue rhetoric where in the past he has prefaced his remarks about Mexican trucks with “dangerous and unsafe”

“I fully expect that the DOT Inspector General and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee to come to the same conclusion that we have – the Mexican Cross-Border Trucking Program has failed.” James Hoffa – Teamsters

The Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) whose numerous failures using the federal Courts to get the Pilot Program shut down are legendary, jumped the gun and proclaimed the program was a failure two weeks before it’s scheduled end date.

Spencer, citing excuses that have been soundly defeated in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals continues to press his ridiculous assertions hoping someone will listen.


What no one anticipated was FMCSA rewarding these 13 carriers who fielded 55 trucks and 54 drivers into the program, with standard operating authority while the final report to Congress on the program is being prepared by the Office of Inspector General. We can only imagine the reaction in Grain Valley Missouri when this was announced one day prior to the conclusion of the program. But what nobody was prepared for was with the granting of standard operating authority to the 13 participants, the authority included every single truck in their fleets operating under their USDOT number.

Overdrive did an analysis of participating carriers’ trucks in the pilot program and the total trucks reported on MCS-150 forms revealed 279 more Mexican power units from four carriers, beyond the pilot-participating trucks, now able to run long-haul across the border.

“The data generated by the program clearly shows that the program should not be renewed or made permanent.

What we would like to know is the agency’s plan going forward and we request that they be transparent about communications with Mexico and analysis of their data, or lack thereof.”

Todd Spencer – Executive Vice-President – OOIDA


This is the gist of their arguments against allowing Mexican carriers full and total access to the United States as we are obligated to do under NAFTA.  Within the trucking provisions of NAFTA, there is nothing requiring a “Pilot Program” or anything remotely similar. All that is required is that all three countries allow “national treatment” to one another. The United States and Canada have long complied with each other but Mexico was another story.

When Ronald Reagan signed an order in 1982 not allowing foreign carriers to operate in the United States, the order covered both the Canada and Mexico. The order was quickly reversed for Canada but kept intact for Mexico. The issue was never about safety as opponents claim but about equal access. Mexico would not allow US domiciled trucks to operate in their country.

In regards to the insufficient data. The data collected is supposed to be indicative of a representative sample of of Mexican carriers who would operate in the United States if we were to fulfill our obligations under NAFTA.

If you accept the claims of OOIDA, Teamsters and their allies in the bogus safety groups that allowing Mexican trucks into the United States would result in tens of thousands of unsafe trucks with their drunk and drugged drivers the opportunity to cause havoc on our nations highways, then the program was an abject failure, because that is not Mexican trucking.

If you accept the fact that Mexican motor carriers are businessmen, large and small who look for business opportunities and forego situations where there are none, then the statistics gathered during the 36 months of the Pilot Program are indicative of the level of safety these Mexican carriers employee in their day to day business.

Even if you don’t want to accept that, there are numbers to prove the safety and compliance of Mexican carriers who have operated for decades in the United States, without the stringent oversight provided by any Pilot Program. And as all segments of the Mexican trucking industry who operate in the United States, they have much lower crash rates, Out of Service (OOS) rates for both drivers and vehicles than their American and Canadian counterparts.

Summary of Mexican-Owned or Mexico-Domiciled Long Haul Carrier Activity
Mexican-Owned or Mexico-Domiciled Long Haul Carrier Activity FY 2013
Pilot Certificate Enterprise
Number of Inspections 1,646 5,597 27,404
I. Full 331 3,293 14,893
II. Walk-Around 79 425 2,915
III. Driver Only 1,233 1,818 9,263
IV. Special Study 1 59 289
V. Terminal 2 2 44
VI. Radioactive Materials 0 0 0
Driver OOS Rate 0.24% 1.66% 1.34%
Vehicle OOS Rate 11.17% 19.06% 18.27%
Hazmat OOS Rate 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
A variety of reports on Mexican-Owned or Mexico-Domiciled long haul carrier activity is available on the left navigation panel of this page. Reports provide data for five fiscal or calendar years of activity.
Data Source: FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) data snapshot as of 9/26/2014. The data presented above are accurate as of this date, but are subject to updates as new or additional information may be reported to MCMIS following the snapshot date.
  • Pilot – A carrier with authority to operate throughout the United States as a participant in the U.S.-Mexico Cross Border Long-Haul Trucking Pilot Program. Carriers admitted into this program undergo a rigorous investigation and are required to comply with all applicable U.S. laws and regulations. Reports include activity only for drivers and vehicles that have been approved to participate in the program.
  • Certificate – A Mexico-domiciled carrier that has authority to operate its trucks throughout the United States by virtue of having been granted this authority prior to the moratorium on long-haul Mexican trucking.
  • Enterprise – A Mexican-owned carrier that is domiciled in the United States; operates in the United States, conducting cross-border transportation of international cargo that originates in or is destined for a foreign country; and is subject to all U.S., state, and local laws pertaining to motor carrier operations and their vehicles.

When you speak of valid statistics to give you a snapshot as to whether a Mexican carrier can operate safely and in compliance in the United States, you only have to look at the number above.

And why does OOIDA concentrate on 13 companies with 55 trucks nd 54 drivers? FMCSA has data showing  that more than 1,800 Mexican-domiciled carriers who
are authorized to operate within the United States under previous program authority.

  • 1,033 Certificate carriers received 15,526 driver inspections and  10,178 vehicle inspections
  • 711 Enterprise carriers received 64, 625 driver inspections and 42, 985 vehicle inspections

and have a better out-of-service rate than U.S. carriers.

Certificate and enterprise carriers are monitored at the same level or more leniently  than how FMCSA is proposing to treat carriers under the continuation of the recently concluded pilot program.


If you have been following this issue, you’ll recall that OOIDA and their spokesman have the attitude that Mexico must rewrite their transportation laws and regulations in order to be able to be compliant with ours. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Both Canadian and Mexican drivers must comply with our laws and regulations when operating within the borders of the United States, nothing more.

One of Spencer’s last gasps is complaining that there is no data available from Mexico concerning drivers licenses issued to truckers holding a Federal license. In the US, the CDL is issued by individual states under Federal guidelines and no commercial driver may hold more than one license. In Mexico, the Licencia Federal Conductor is a Federal document. Issued after extensive testing. And for most truckers in Mexico, it is the only license they have, need or want.

William Quade, assistant administrator for program enforcement at FMCSA set the record straight at the meeting of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee earlier this week, in response to Spencer’s whining.

Quade said the state licensing system there seems to be mostly “about revenue,” not safety. “There’s not even a requirement that a driver hold a state license. We don’t think it’s even related to safety.” What’s important, he said, is the federal license that any Mexican truck driver needs to run on federal roads.

And he is correct. My better half needs to get her drivers license. We live in Saltillo Coahuilla. We have a licensing office 3 minutes from our home. Instead, she preferred to make a three hour trip to Monclova, where she was born and where she could obtain a Coahuilla State Drivers License simply by filling out the application and paying the $700 pesos licensing fee. In Saltillo, she would have been required to have driver training, take a written and a road test before being issued a license.

This post is part of the thread: Mexico Cross Border Pilot Program – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

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