US truckers could take a lesson from their cousins south of the border in Mexico. Nationwide protests and blockades by Mexican truckers against the use of double 53″ trailers and 80 metric ton weight limits was heard by the government in Mexico City.
The Mexican government said Friday it will tighten inspections and lower maximum allowed weights for big rigs after Independent truckers partially blocked highways leading into Mexico City to protest rules allowing extremely heavy and very long trucks, something they say displaces them from hauling jobs and pressures them to overload their own rigs.
Mexico law currently allows trucks to access two-lane roads with loads of up to 80 metric tons and lengths exceeding 100 feet, compared to a U.S. limit of is 80,000 pounds (40 tons) on interstate highways.
The Federal Communications and Transport Department (SCT) issued a statement Friday saying it is lowering maximum weights by 4.5 tons, and limiting double trailers to 25 kilometer (15.5 mile) runs on secondary roads.
At present the double-longs are theoretically limited to wider, main Federal highways, but a special permit has allowed them to complete many journeys on back roads.
The department also said double-trailers will all have to be inspected within two months. The department said it will increase its inspection force by 14 percent and increase weigh-in scales from 63 to 88. (Here that all you non-believers? Mexico had 88 permanent scale house facilities throughout the country)
Double trailers will also have to carry proof of the weight of the freight they carry.
As US truckers have been adamant in opposing increased weight limits of 97,000 pounds being proposed by Congress and supported by the ATA and others, Mexican truckers and the public have long opposed these longer combination vehicles in Mexico. It appears not, that the government of Mexico has listened.
What brought on this change?
On April 13, a semi-truck pulling two trailers of grain allegedly lost its brakes while traveling along a state highway west of Mexico City, when the rear trailer broke free and slammed into a bus carrying university students. Five students and a teacher were killed.
And one week ago, a double-trailer truck on a two-lane road in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz also lost its rear trailer, which slammed into a bus carrying farm workers, killing 43 people.
The protests were organized by the Alliance of Mexican Transport Organizations and CANACAR.
Alliance national coordinator Francisco Leyva said discretionary rules put pressure on truckers to carry bigger loads and as far as he knows, there is not a country in the world that carries as much weight (in trucks) as we do,
The issue is an obscure rule that normally bans semis hauling double trailers from using Mexico’s secondary roads, unless the trucking company applies for a “connectivity permit” that allows such travel by trucks that meet certain requirements. But many don’t bother with the relatively inexpensive permit and use the roads at will.
The SCT says 5,710 trucks were fined for being overweight in 2011. In an interview with local media, SCT trucking director Miguel Elizalde said roughly half the 30,000 accidents registered each year on Mexico’s federal highways involved trucks, and about 900 of those were double trailers.
Of course, some in the US media have tried to connect this issue with the issue of Cross Border trucking with Mexico,zeroing in on the “dangerous” part of the story. OOIDA and Teamsters have long claimed all Mexican trucks and their drivers to be “dangerous and unsafe”, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked time and again by statistics and real world evidence.
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.