NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico…. Mexican truckers who haul the trailers back and forth across the border in Laredo Texas are enrolling in a basic course Intensive Conversational English to avoid being fined.
FMCSA regulation 391.11.(b)(2) requires that truckers operating on US roadways be sufficiently proficient in English to understand road signs, converse with the public and law enforcement officers. However, the regulation gives little guidance to how the rules should be enforced in the field other than to advise law enforcement officials that a “good faith” effort is sufficient to satisfy the rule. This leaves it up to the individual enforcement officer to determine what “good faith” is. As a result, under the new CSA rules, Mexican carriers safety ratings are being destroyed by the unequal and often capricious use of this rule.
Some 4500 Mexican truckers haul trailers back and forth across the three border crossings in Laredo Texas daily and many have received fines and warnings due to their perceived lack of “English proficiency”
José Antonio García Fuentes, President of the Union Border AC Operators, notes that the license required of these cross border haulers is a Licensia Federal de Conductor with an International endorsement. Mexican law requires that the holder of this license be 21 years of age, of good moral character and pass an English proficiency test administered by the SCT in order to gain the endorsement.
The basic intensive conversational language course consists of 80 hours of instruction which prepares the drivers to be able to converse fluently with officials on the US side.
Jesus Antonio Lorenzes Trevino who teaches the course , says that the student learn to communicate with an officer, identify all the parts of a truck both outside, and inside, identify all the signs of the United States
Many of those taking the course such as Escobar Homer Zamora say they have received warnings for “not speaking English” but after taking the course, have seen these greatly reduced on their records.
This Basic Conversational English course is free. The first of its kind was held in July 2008.
35 years in the trucking business and living in Mexico for the past 15 years, make me uniquely qualified to offer my insight and opinion into the Mexican trucking industry and other border issues. A contributor to SiriuxXM Road Dog Channel 106 and to the award winning Lockridge Report, Mexico Trucker Online continues to publish the unvarnished truth about the subjects we cover.