FMCSA releases Independent Panels analysis of Mexican Cross Border Program
An independent evaluation panel’s report on the U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking demonstration project prepared at the request of Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters, definitively shows that Mexican domiciled trucks can operate safely and in compliance with all US laws and USDOT regulations.
The report was prepared by Mortimer L. Downey III, chairman of the board of PB Consult Inc., James T. Kolbe, senior advisor at McLarty Associates and a professor in the college of business at the University of Arizona, and Kenneth M. Mead, a special consultant at Baker Botts LLP and former inspector general of the Department of Transportation.
The Independent Evaluation Panel was charged with a comprehensive evaluation of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) United States-Mexico Cross-Border Trucking Demonstration Project, which began September 7, 2007. The panel had the responsibility of independently reviewing this project for 12 months, assessing the implementation of US motor carrier safety rules, and evaluating the compliance and safety record of Mexico-domiciled carriers and trucks operating in the United States under the project. The report was issued October 31.
Although the participation levels fell far short of what had been anticipated, largely in part to the misguided and protectionists efforts of opponents to derail the project through lawsuits and Congressional actions, the panel said that their work verified that FMCSA implemented policies and regulations regarding admitting Mexico-domiciled carriers into the demonstration project, establishing safety mechanisms at the border, ensuring enforcement of safety rules by state enforcement officials, and carrying out the DOT’s commitment to check every truck and every driver every time. Exactly as Congress has demanded in the past.
“This report provides a comprehensive, independent, analysis of the safety measures the agency put in place to ensure the success of the project,” FMCSA Administrator John Hill said. “As the report makes clear, those measures have effectively shown that U.S. and Mexican carriers can safely engage in cross-border trucking operations while providing U.S. drivers new opportunities to compete and succeed in a market where they previously were unable to operate.”
Among other findings:
- Demonstration trucks had no reported crashes.
- The DOT has honored its commitment to check every truck everytime.
- FMCSA and state safety enforcement officials reported no crashes involving Mexico-domiciled trucks participating in the demonstration project. During the project, more than 7,000 safety inspections were conducted on the participant drivers and more than 1,400 safety inspections on the participant trucks, in addition to the every-truck-every-time checks done at the border-crossing facilities used by the OP-1 carriers.
- Of the 7,000 driver safety inspections, 37, or less than 1 percent, resulted in out-of-service (OOS) violations.
- The panel’s work “verified” that FMCSA implemented policies and regulations regarding admitting Mexico-domiciled carriers into the demonstration project, establishing safety mechanisms at the border, ensuring enforcement of safety rules by state enforcement officials, and carrying out the Department’s commitment to check every truck and every driver every time. More specifically, the report said the authors found that
- (1) the Pre-Authority Safety Audits (PASAs) were comprehensive and the agency conducted all the audits on-site in Mexico,
- (2) that FMCSA honored its commitment to check every truck every time at the border, and
- (3) that FMCSA provided state safety enforcement officers with guidance on enforcing safety requirements for the demonstration project.
A copy of the 2008 INDEPENDENT REVIEW PANEL report can be downloaded by clicking the link
This Report totally debunks the objections of the opposition
On July 12, 2008, I undertook a decidedly unscientific look at the stats for these Mexican carriers and published it in the post titled Mexican Cross Border Pilot Program 10th Month Assessment This independent panel report verifies my findings exactly but from a more complete review.
It’s ironic that this report was released today. Last evening, I was listening to Todd Spencer mouthing off on Landline Now radio program. In his smirking voice, he felt assured that the new administration which is believed to be pro union, would put a swift end to the Cross Border Program and shut the southern border to any and all Mexican trucks.
This report, which was undertaken under rules established by Congress, should pretty much deflate the sails of the oppositon, especially Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters, who continues to erroneously refer to these trucks as “dangerous and illegal”?
More Highlights from the INDEPENDENT REVIEW PANEL REPORT 2008
- Crashes, Inspections, Violations, and Driver Convictions. FMCSA and state safety enforcement officials reported no crashes involving Mexico-domiciled trucks participating in the demonstration project. During the project, more than 7,000 safety inspections were conducted on the participant drivers and more than 1,400 safety inspections on the participant trucks, in addition to the every-truck-every-time checks done at the border-crossing facilities used by the OP-1 carriers.
- Of the 7,000 driver safety inspections, 37, or less than 1 percent, resulted in out-of-service (OOS) violations. The driver OOS rate for the demonstration project carriers was lower than the rates of the grandfathered carriers and U.S.-domiciled carriers but similar to the rate for the border commercial zone carriers
- Of the 1,400 vehicle safety inspections, 130, or 8.7 percent, resulted in OOS violations. By comparison, the vehicle OOS rate for the project participants was less than half the rates for the grandfathered carriers (24 percent), commercial zone carriers (22 percent), all U.S.-domiciled carriers (23 percent), and new-entrant U.S. motor carriers (28 percent)
- The panel found a total of 6 cases out of the more than 12,000 truck trips in which a demonstration project driver was convicted for a driving offense. FMCSA provided us with records of drivers’ convictions from its Mexican Conviction Database for 2000 to 2008. Our review of the records shows that from September 7, 2007, to September 6, 2008, there were three cases in which a demonstration project driver was convicted for a driving offense. All three drivers worked for the same Mexican carrier. One of the convictions was for speeding 6 to 10 miles beyond the speed limit, and two were for general equipment failure, such as inoperable brake lights or insufficient tire tread.
- The panel also reviewed the conviction records for the demonstration project drivers in the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) and found three additional convictions during this same period. These three convictions were for improper lane change and defective lights. Relatively minor offenses.
- The Pre-Authority Safety Audits (PASAs) were comprehensive and the agency conducted all the audits on-site in Mexico,
- FMCSA honored its commitment to check every truck every time at the border, and
- FMCSA provided state safety enforcement officers with guidance on enforcing safety requirements for the demonstration project.
- They must be able to read and speak English sufficiently to converse with inspectors and the general public, respond to official inquiries, and make entries on reports and records.
- Second, they must be able to demonstrate that they understand the meaning of highway traffic signs and signals that are in English.
- Authority to operate under this demonstration project;
- Authority to operate within specific states or anywhere in the United States under pre–North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provisions; and
- Authority to operate within the border commercial zone.
- To accurately assess the safety performance of carriers in the demonstration project, FMCSA would need a larger sample of Mexican carriers than the 27 current participants. The agency could start with the 38 additional carriers that successfully passed the safety audits but because of lack of insurance were not granted OP-1 operating authority—if those carriers still have an interest in participating. If all these additional carriers secured the necessary insurance and were granted OP-1 authority, the total number of Mexico-domiciled carriers would be 65 and the total number of trucks would be about 300. The agency would have better statistical results with a larger sample size.
- The panel observed that the mechanism for checking the 27 participant carriers and their 101 trucks is more stringent than what is in place for about 860 carriers and their 1,700 trucks that have ?grandfathered? status or certificates of registration to operate in specific states beyond the commercial zone. The panel strongly urge FMCSA to extend similar inspection procedures and rigor to the other carriers that have long-haul operating authority and travel beyond the commercial zone. FMCSA informed the Panel that it intends to develop a more strategic enforcement focus for its inspection procedures in conjunction with the compliance review process established for Mexican carriers operating in the United States.
- The existence of three operating authorities with varying safety requirements for Mexico-domiciled carriers offers an opportunity for the Department to bring Mexican carriers currently operating beyond the commercial zone in the United States under a single safety umbrella. A combined safety program for Mexican carriers with long-haul authority would enable FMCSA to better monitor and identify the unsafe carriers within these groups so that the carriers could improve their operations or FMCSA could put them out of service. Such a program would also streamline FMCSA’s safety oversight process, allowing the agency to focus its resources on expanding the number of compliance reviews it conducts on Mexican carriers with poor safety records. The Panel recognizes that certain safety features of the current demonstration project, such as a pre-condition PASA, would not be applicable to the grandfathered and certificated Mexican carriers, although a vigorous program of compliance reviews could be a substitute. However, other features, such as a special suffix next to the USDOT number for easy identification of trucks when they operate beyond the border zone and the every-truck-every-time checks at the border, could be applicable to these long-haul carriers. FMCSA has committed to take the necessary steps to ensure these carriers have a unique identifier added to their existing USDOT number.
- With regard to the PASA, because FMCSA said it did not properly articulate its intent with respect to use of the 11 safety regulations, we urge the agency to correctly state in a Federal Register notice how it plans to incorporate these regulations into the PASA. Using these 11 safety regulations (or whatever critical elements emerge in the New Entrant Rule) as pass-fail eligibility criteria in the PASA would improve the agency’s ability to identify unsafe Mexican carriers and ensure that deficient basic safety-management procedures are corrected before carriers are granted long-haul operating authority.
- FMCSA equipped 73 of the 101 Mexican participant trucks with GPS tracking devices, and we believe that these devices are an important safety control. As the devices are mounted on all the remaining project trucks, FMCSA should require more accurate and specific vehicle location and destination data from the database behind the tracking system. These data would allow the agency to improve its monitoring of project trucks when they operate beyond the border zone.
- FMCSA did not report any insurance-related problems to the Panel other than the one carrier that allowed its insurance to lapse. The panels interviews of the five insurance companies insuring the 29 demonstration project carriers did not indicate any further problems. However, FMCSA needs a more effective monitoring system to stop carriers who operate without the required insurance and operating authority before they enter the United States.
- Considering the Department’s announcement to extend the demonstration project and the stated objective to increase the number of Mexico-domiciled carriers participating in the project, it is important for the Department to monitor the adequacy of its staffing, inspection equipment, and other resource needs for the demonstration project. The Department should determine whether it needs to augment its inspection capability, equipment, or other support resources to accommodate the expected increase in the number of project participant carriers