EOBR’s and Mexican Trucks

PeopleNet EOBR
Example of an EOBR to be required on Mexican trucks operating in the US
One of the requirements in the Concept Document for the new Mexican truck program released that is causing a stir and that quite frankly, I vehemently disagree with is the requirement that all Mexican trucks be equipped with Electronic Onboard Recorders or EOBR’s, which in the US is a contentious issue in it’s own right.

Part of the controversy is the idea that FMCSA would pay for these devices to be installed in the Mexican trucks so they would have real time access to the data and would in fact “own” all data collected. Sounds good on the surface as that would prove once and for all that Mexican drivers do not drive 19 hours a day 7 days a week as opponents such as OOIDA and the Teamsters claim.

Under NAFTA, the United States was supposed to treat Canada and Mexico equally,, requiring the same of both countries. Canada, with their more liberal hours of service rules, and their frequent acknowledged violation of our cabotage laws is not being required to have the EOBR’s.

Brian Straight,managing editor of Fleet Owner gets right to the point of this requirement that has so many people up in arms. Not over the requirement that the Mexican carriers, where 85% of the fleets already have Qualcomm communication systems, have EOBR’s, but that money from the Highway Trust fund be used to pay for them.

Brian writes:

I wonder if this provision was put in by the Administration to show Mexico that we were doing everything we could to comply with the requirements of NAFTA, while at the same time creating an out for the public and Congress……..

This revelation seems a lot like a poison pill designed to torpedo the program before it can be resurrected. According to reports, the reason the U.S. wants to pay for the EOBRs is so that the government “owns” the data the devices collect. Until someone can provide a valid reason as to why the government needs to own this data, I question why this is important……….
[pullquote]A spokesperson for the Texas Dept. of Public Safety told the Texas Tribune in January that the resumption of the program would not increase drug trafficking or any other illegal activity coming across the border.[/pullquote]
And if the government feels this data is that vital, might it then want to “own” the data recorded by these devices once they are installed on all U.S.-based trucks? Maybe we’ll be told it’s a national security issue – it will prevent drug trafficking, human smuggling, illegals from entering the country. Doubtful. The proposed trucking program would require EOBRs for Mexican trucks inside the U.S. The government owning the data is not going to prevent any of these things from taking place. Maybe the government just wants to know where these trucks are at all times. Talk about trust issues……….

And it seems to be working. Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) firmly in the pocket of the labor unions released this statement:

“As I have said before, three issues must be addressed in the cross-border trucking program: safety, security and job loss,” DeFazio said. “I appreciate the Administration’s attempt to address the very serious safety and security concerns surrounding Mexican trucks, and I am glad we are beginning to address the extortionate Mexican tariffs unfairly slapped on American goods. However, taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for the Mexican trucking industry to comply with American safety standards. It is outrageous that we would spend tax dollars to pay for equipment on Mexican trucks; equipment which either the Mexican government or the Mexican carriers themselves should be required to pay. I also question the authority to grant Mexican carriers permanent authority to operate on American roads and highways before a pilot program is complete and the results evaluated.”

Well Petey boy! The tariff’s are legal and in no way extortionate, put there because of your kowtowing to Union interests and opposing our legal commitment to NAFTA. Congress does not have to approve the deal since both countries have come to an agreement over how best to resolve the standoff.

But most of us share your concern about taxpayer money being used to fund this requirement, which is nowhere to be found in the original NAFTA agreement nor the arbitration board agreement of the 90’s.

Ironically, Teamsters and OOIDA pushed for this requirement in stakeholder meetings with Secretary Ray LaHood last year, and now that it is close to becoming a reality, they are in opposition to their own proposal.

In the meantime, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk has stated a final agreement should be “weeks, if not days, away”.

And an editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram puts the whole thing in a better perspective:

The United States has been in violation of NAFTA long enough. It is time for Congress to remove any roadblocks and approve the deal agreed on by the two heads of state.
Such a move would add a significant boost to the U.S. economy while eliminating much of the growing frustration and unnecessary hardship caused by this provincial prohibition.
[pullquote]As for the American unions that continue to protest, what are they afraid of? Surely they aren’t saying they can’t compete with their fellow truckers from Mexico.[/pullquote]

Our compliance with NAFTA would in no way impact union LTL drivers nor warehouse workers as the border states are right to work states and the majority of companies are non union, although one imagines Hoffa would pee his panties to change that.