1 million truck violations cited at border crossing? The story behind the story

Federal and Texas DPS inspectors at US-Mexico border
Federal and Texas DPS inspectors at Brownsville POE

Today’s El Paso Times has a piece out titled “1 Million Truck Violations Cited at Border Crossing”by Diana Washington who has in the past been a reputable reporter on things concerning the US/Mexico border in El Paso. But the story is misleading and just the sort of thing we expect OOIDA to jump on first thing tomorrow morning. So let’s defuse this bomb before they have a chance to use it.

The story reads in full;

Texas state inspectors in El Paso have found thousands of safety violations in trucks coming from Mexico, including bad brakes, flat tires, axle problems and defective lights, statistics show.

Between fiscal years 2007 and the first six months of 2011, the state conducted 1.2 million inspections at state facilities by the Bridge of Americas and the Zaragoza International Bridge. The state fiscal year runs from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31.

During that period, officers found a million violations, and placed 31,519 trucks and 625 drivers out of service. Many trucks had multiple violations.

Why that’s just terrible folks, isn’t it? Based on that, we should ban all Mexican trucks from the US, Canadian too if you want to be fair about it. But how do those number break down?

The fiscal year runs from October until September 30 of the following year so in the case of this report we would be looking at,

  • 54 fiscal months
  • 216 fiscal weeks
  • 1620 fiscal days (give or take a day or two)
So how does that break down given the numbers that the reporter uses?
  • Trucks OOS per month   584    Drivers OOS per month  11.5
  • Trucks OOS per week      145    Driver OOS per week      2.89 
  • Trucks OOS daily             19           Driver OOS daily    0.3
Now, the article doesn’t say which POE in El Paso these rather suspect statistics were taken from, but the average traffic per year crossing at all the El Paso area POE’s is 760,000 trucks. So in the period used, that would be a rough average of  3.04 million trucks crossing the US border at El Paso for the 4 year period.  Can anyone get their mind around these numbers yet?
Remember also that total truck crossing on the US/Mexico border yearly is 4.8 million and steadily increasing by 12% annually.
Let’s also take a quick peak at the inspection numbers for FY 2007 – 2011. These are total inspections within the state of Texas and includes Federal and State DPS  inspections. If you want to break them down yourselves, the numbers can be found here.
  • 2011 – 95,070
  • 2010 – 205,488
  • 2009 – 180,432
  • 2008 – 161,889
  • 2007 – 168,695
TOTAL – 811,574
Those of us domiciled in Texas and those who run the state regularly know the methods the Texas DPS uses to stop and inspect big rigs. Flying mudflaps. A small piece missing from a mudflap or a marker light out. Anything to give them cause to make the stop. And if they can’t find a violation, a thumb run over a brake line underneath the trailer is evidence of “chafing air lines” for which they write thousands of warnings a month.
So once again, we have a non-issue being pushed by the opponents of cross border trucking trying to instill fear into the hearts and minds of the uninformed.