Fighting cross border trucking with fabrications and fear mongering

Licencia Federal de Conductor
Mexican CDL with annotations for integrated Medical Certification

A caller to a nationally known trucking news report show recently starting spewing his objections and telling all who would listen why Mexican trucks should be forever banned from US highways.

The days guest, a well known and respected journalist and trucking expert asked the caller;

“Where do you get this information?”

The caller, stunned at having his views questioned, stuttered and stammered for a moment and then blurted, “OOIDA of course!”

And the journalist responded that , and I’m paraphrasing, “That for all the time OOIDA has been objecting to Mexican trucks, they have not ventured one fact to support their oppostion”. The caller stammered a bit more and hung up.

The journalist was correct in his assessment as we’ve pointed out many times over the years, and the latest, from Mark H. Reddig, continues that trend.

In a blog post last week titled Questions about cross-border trucking? Here’s a couple of answers Reddig continued his campaign of fabrications and misinformation answering two questions.

“Does Mexico have a CDL program, and do they have drug testing?”

His answer to the first part was typical of the sophomoric reporting on this debate that we’ve come to associate with OOIDA and their allies. His answer?

Mexico does have a CDL program. You ask for a CDL; you get one. As far as we’ve been able to determine, it’s pretty easy to just buy one on the streets, and pretty much anyone can.

He does a disservice to his listeners, readers and members with such an offhand and flippant answer. He should have answered with the truth.

Mexico does have a CDL program, the requirements of which are similar, but in some ways more stringent than those in the US. Typical time needed to obtain a Licencia Federal de Conductor is three months.

The requirements to obtain a Licencia Federal de Conductor (Mexican CDL) are detailed in this document, translated or your convenience or you can get it and other reference materials from the SCT website

It is interesting to note, that one of the requirements to obtain a Licencia Federal de Conductor, valid in the US and Canada, is proof of English literacy. (See highlighted notes on download)

So possibly yes. You could obtain something called a Mexican CDL on the street corner, but try to use it or present it as official identification, and you’d probably find yourself fending off the amorous advances of Dulce Diego in the local hoosegow.

But let us continue with Reddigs assault on peoples intelligence. He goes on to further claim that,

NO CDL’s AND NO DATABASES

1. -What’s more, they were required under NAFTA to provide a database of their CDL drivers, listing driver histories –so basically, if they have a violation, we can see that history.

2. – Their database only lists names and indicates that they’re associated with a CDL.

3. -When U.S. officials checked Mexico-based drivers’ credentials, 16 percent didn’t even show up as having a CDL.

4. – And we have no way to check to see if the names on the database are actually the names of real people holding CDLs.

1. Mexico does have a database of drivers histories, on a state basis and on the Federal level. The difference is that in the US, violators receive citations, time after time for the most mundane things and they’re listed on our driver profiles. In Mexico, small violations often go uncited, while the larger, more serious violations such as reckless driving, accidents with major property damage or injuries result in suspension or revocation of license, many times for life.

Also, what Reddig fails to mention, if the Mexican drivers have operated in the US, either in the demonstration program, as one of the legacy carriers or a border drayage driver, their license is most likely listed in US databases, whether they received a citation or not. And with coming of CSA2010, any Mexican driver who has had an inspection in the last three years, will have a file, as will the Canadians.

2. So here Reddig contradicts himself and admits to the databases existence that his boss Todd Spencer has always denied. Yet there is more. Any license holder in Mexico can check the status of their license and their integrated medical certificate online. Here’s the proof. Follow this link and it will show how Mexican CDL holders can check their LFC for violations or suspensions. Notice how it asks for the LICENSE NUMBER and PREVENTIVE MEDICINE NUMBER for access. The latter is the Commercial Medical Certification number. Something that OOIDA claims does not exist.

3. – We’ll give Mark this one because it is true. And those 16% were denied entry into the US or had their visas revoked because of it. In other words, the system in place works.

4. Actually, we do have a way to be certain the name on the license is that of the actual person. Several ways in fact. First, if you downloaded the above mentioned requirements, you’ll see that one of the mulitple identification items is the CURP (Clave Unica de Registro de Poblacion or Universal Key for Registration of the Population.) In October 1996, the federal government issued a decree obliging every person living in Mexico to be assigned a personal identification number.

The long-term aim of this program was to simplify bureaucratic procedures and allow dozens of different government institutions to identify citizens with a single ID number. By using the CURP, dealing with departments such as Hacienda, Inmigracion, Salud, Educacion, the Registro Civil, among others, will, in theory, become more efficient. The government’s long-term aim is for the CURP to take the place of all other official ID numbers, such as a person’s RFC (personal tax number), IMSS (Social Security) number and RFE (Student Registration Number).

In addition to the background checks conducted on these drivers who apply for a border crossing visa, we well know that the person holding the license is the same as the name on the license.


NO CERTIFIED DRUG TESTING LABS

We’ve often asked, “What do they mean by “Certified”?” Are they alluding to the demand that the drug testing labs in Mexico be certified by the United States? How absurd is that. We have no regulatory authority “certify” another countries labs or procedures.

Reddig makes this comment:

Mexico does not have a single certified drug testing lab. Not one. So in no way can they have a drug testing program – at least in the way we use that term.

For our non trucking readers, in the US, we have certified labs for our drug testing because testing is done “off site” by private labs. You have to have a chain of custody to maintain the integrity of the sample as it travels from donor, to lab worker, to express company to it’s final destination at the lab. Much like a chain of evidence.

In Mexico, the medical, psychological and drug testing are done at a government facility by government certified Doctors and technicians. The specimen never leaves the building nor the office where it is taken. And testing procedures are much the same worldwide. So in that respect, the government labs doing the testing are self certified.

Here are some links to Mexico’s Preventive Medicine program which does what they cal psychophysical examinations for commercial drivers and pilots.

First we look at the main website for the Ministry of Communication and Transportation – Preventive Medicine

The General Directorate of Protection and Preventive Medicine Transportation consists of 1 Aviation Medicine Branch, 42 Medical Units nationwide, 27 Mobile Medical Units and 106 Modules for Medical Examinations in Operation.

This links you to the certified Medical Examiners permitted to perform the required medical licensing exams on applicants.

Further proof that Mexico has the same, if not more stringent requirements than the US can be found in their “MISSION STATEMENT” which reads in part:

The human factor is the main cause of accidents (90.0%), occurring with greater incidence of hypertension, fatigue, drug and alcohol abuse and predisposing diseases among others.

Psychophysical tests, medical and toxicological operation, are a valuable tool for SCT in the prevention of accidents, and to evaluate the health status of the operator, and determine if it is in terms of fitness to perform their work in VGC.

This link gives the objectives of the various medical exams and substance testing.

This link gives you downloads for generic statistics of medical testing across the transportation spectrum in Mexico

Reddig made two salient points in his closing. The first;

As I said earlier, as part of the NAFTA agreement, trucks based in Mexico that want to run in the United States have to follow every single requirement that U.S. trucks and truckers have to follow.

Reddig is absolutely correct, and from all the evidence, the statistics from FMCSA and the opinion of the USDOT/OIG in his written reports, the Mexican trucks and their drivers have followed every single standard that we have put before them.

And his final point;

Our only obligation under NAFTA is to allow those truckers that meet our requirements to cross the border. If they do not meet the requirements, then that border should remain a real barrier to those trucks.

As we stated before, these trucks and truckers have met our requirements and have done so in a safe and professional manner. As such, the barrier should have been lifted long ago.
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