Opponents of Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico up to their old tricks – Scare the hell out of John Q. Public


Mexican truckersOn April 19, 2013, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed all claims against the Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico saying that none of the 13 points made in the petition for review were “persuasive” to the Court.

Today is the last day for Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and International Brotherhood of Teamsters to appeal that ruling. It appears they are taking a different method. And why not? With few exceptions, they’ve lost ever effort they’ve made to close down the border to Mexican trucks.

This time, it appears they’ve reached out to their sometimes allied bogus safety groups, Advocates for Highway Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition.

Yesterday, Advocates sent out a press release so sophomoric and filled with half truths and hyperbole, that many of use who received it actually felt pity for the groups on the letterhead. But just for a moment mind you.

They titled it U.S. DOT ALLOWING UNSAFE MEXICO-DOMICILED TRUCK COMPANIES TO PARTICIPATE IN NAFTA PILOT PROGRAM THREATENING SAFETY OF MOTORISTS” which in and of itself is a complete exaggeration and falsehood. The follow this with the demand that “U.S. DOT Must Take Swift Action to Prevent Unsafe Motor Carriers from Crossing the Border”.

They bring into question three Mexican motor carriers who have applied to participate in the Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico. RAM Trucking, a new entrant from Nuevo Laredo Tamaulipas, Transportes Monteblanco SA DE CV domiciled in Huachichil Artega, Chihuahua and the latest to pass their Pre-Authorization Safety Audit or PASA, Servicio De Transporte Internacional y Local SA DE CV with offices throughout Mexico.

Advocates erroneously states the that the latter two, Transportes Monteblanco and Servicio de Transporte Internacional continue to participate in the Pilot Program even though they received a less than Satisfactory rating in the safety Compliance Review (CR).

Tranportes Monteblanco did receive a conditional safety compliance review on March 1, 2013 that resulted in a “conditional” rating. However, six weeks later, Transportes Monteblanco submitted proof of corrective action and was given a Safety Compliance Rating of  SATISFACTORY.  The comment period for Servicio de Transporte International just ended and as of this date, they have not been granted final authority to participate in the program. This is the manner that Advocates uses to obfuscate the issue.

Advocates also makes mention of the affiliate carriers connected to these three applicants and the fact that initially they failed to disclose these affiliations. Advocates and their allies continue to bring this up in their comments to the FMCSA even going so far to insinuate that it is some vague conspiracy between all applicants and demanding the signatories be prosecuted for a Federal perjury charge. Now, if you’re some tin hat wingnut or hater of Mexico as the President of OOIDA has proven himself to be, you’ll probably agree. But as we’ve stated in our comments to the FMCSA concerning the fitness of these carriers, there is no evidence that each and every carrier that applies hides these affiliations willfully and with malice. FMCSA has agreed and allowed these carriers to attach letters explaining their oversights. Far from being willful and deliberate, we think there is some confusion in the translation of the documents the applicants must submit.

The presser also focuses on the affiliate carrier to RAM Trucking. RAM Trucking is a truly new entrant. Never operated before. They’ll be taking drivers and equipment from their affiliate Zaro Trucking to participate.

Joan Claybrook, Consumer Co-Chair of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said,

“Zaro Transportation has a driver fitness BASIC score that is a disaster at 99.4% (100% being the worst score) and nearly as dismal a vehicle maintenance BASIC score of 95.7%. Auto Transportes Zaros SA de CV, likewise has an unheard of 99.4% driver fitness score, and an even lower vehicle maintenance BASIC score of 99.5%. The FMCSA should be using every tool available to protect motorists, not further endanger them by allowing treacherously unsafe Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to participate in the NAFTA Pilot Program.”

Claybrook is correct about the BASIC scores. But here is what she is not telling you because it would blow her argument out of the water.

Zaro Transportation is an OP1-MX carrier authorized to operate in the commercial zones of the US-Mexico border. Their 99.3% score in the Driver Fitness BASIC was determined by 242 Inspections in a 24 month period. that resulted in 40 driver violations. The majority of these violations was for violating 391.11.(b)(2) the English Language rule. This is an Out of Service violation but none were put OOS. In the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, the score was enhanced by things like a light out or reflective tape damaged. Nothing that materially effects the safe operation of the vehicle.

It also reflects the dismal failure of the so called CSA program which has put many good carriers, US, Canadian and Mexico at risk of intervention.

RAM Trucking being a new entrant has no data yet to review. But are we to presume that just because an affliate has a high SMS score, that the applicant will follow? It’s a ridiculous assumption. And at the end of the day, how do you judge the safety and fitness of a carrier? By arbitrary and suspect numbers which OOIDA admits is flawed and who has filed suit against the FMCSA over or do you look at their Out of Service and Accident numbers?  I make my judgement by the later.

In the case of Zaro Transport, out of 7800 inspections in the past 24 months, they have a driver OOS rate of 6% and a vehicle OOS rate 15%. Far below the national average for US carriers. Accidents? In 24 months, only 2. Now in my opinion, that is a safe operation.

And what about Servico de Transporte Internacional? Similar numbers. Drivers OOS – 0%. Vehicle OOS – 9% Accidents – 4.

All the usual bad actors jumped into the fray in order to scare the hell out of John Q. Public.

James Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said

“We’ve said
all along that our concern about this program was ensuring that Mexican trucks and drivers meet
our U.S. safety standards, and it’s clear that FMCSA has not been exercising the proper oversight
to accomplish this goal. It’s wrong and inexcusable to endanger the traveling public in this way”.

 

Hoffa and the rest have been curiously absent in protesting these carriers when the FMCSA asks for comments.

Of course OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer, chimed in with his tired debunked rhetoric;

“It’s blatantly clear that the only entities truly pushing for opening the border are big businesses
in the United States seeking to force small business truckers to forfeit their own economic
opportunities. FMCSA’s actions show that they are following an agenda for large economic
interests and are determined to accept a significantly lower standard for trucks from Mexico than
what they apply to those in the U.S. This altogether means compromised highway safety and
loss of U.S. jobs,”

And they pay the man a quarter of a million dollars a year for this?

And from the officials of these bogus safety groups?

John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition, stated,

“We urge Administrator Ferro to correct these deficiencies immediately and take the proper steps to ensure the DOT pilot program for Mexican trucks has the necessary safety measures and procedures to protect the motoring public. Failure to do so will continue to undermine the already low confidence in the study and needlessly endanger the American public.”

 

FMCSA has done an outstanding job of monitoring the Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico including complying with all the rules and regulations forced on them by the opposition lobbying Congress in the hopes that finally the Mexicans will throw their hands up and go away. We saw how that worked out didn’t we?

Mexican motor carriers are here to stay. They’ve been operating safely within our country for more than 60 years. They have not caused small motor carriers economic hardship and quite frankly, have not raised the interest of the general public, nor have the participants in the Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico. It is a non issue.

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This post is part of the thread: Mexico Cross Border Pilot Program – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

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About PMC

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.