10th Mexican Carrier cleared to enter Mexican Cross Border Program – OOIDA “puppet” Duncan Hunter “troubled”

Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-CA)
Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. Furtive mouthpiece for OOIDA
Almost a year-and-a-half after it applied to participate in the Cross-Border Trucking Pilot Program, Mexico-domiciled carrier Grupo Behr has been granted authority to participate in the project.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made it official in a Federal Register notice published on February 19, 2013.

Grupo Behr’s application was sidelined by OOIDA and others in the only successful attempt by those groups to sideline an applicant through false and misleading comments submitted during the 30 day comment period required by FMCSA.

OOIDA, Teamsters and their allied bogus safety advocacy groups, expressed concern that Grupo Behr’s vehicle maintenance rating within FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) was 45.8 percent. However, they failed to note nor acknowledge that the threshold for intervention in that category is 80%.

Grasping at straws, OOIDA and their allies claimed equipment, such as a 1991 Freightliner would be used in the program, which of course Grupo Behr had no intention of using and also used as an example a Ford Econoline Van which had failed a California smog check, which it later passed, as evidence of Grupo Behr’s non compliance with US laws. They also raised questions about the history of drivers the company planned to use, even though that information is not available to the public, the carrier’s insurance history and its affiliation with other motor carriers.

In mid-October, the agency announced it would delay granting authority to Grupo Behr until it had investigated all concerns expressed in the comments. And what did they find? During the review of Grupo Behr’s operations, it was determined that Grupo Behr operated beyond the scope of its operating authority in force at the time because Grupo Behr had a lease agreement with a U.S.-based motor carrier, Maria Guadalupe Carrillo Cervantes

Federal regulations say that no Mexico-domiciled commercial zone carrier may lease vehicles for use beyond the commercial zone.

Grupo Behr terminated that agreement in November 2011.

Based on the original Pre-Authorization Safety Audit or PASA, completion of the focused investigation, corrective action documentation provided by the carrier and improved OOS rates and SMS scores, the FMCSA said it has now deemed Grupo Behr’s safety record sufficient for participation in the pilot program.

FMCSA issued operating authority to Grupo Behr for participation in the pilot program Jan. 29.

OOIDA “puppet” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) “troubled” over Cross Border Program

Congressman Duncan Hunter, like father – like son. Neither allowing any opportunity to bash Mexico to go ignored. Be it pushing the hysteria that hoards of illegals are pouring across our southern border or demanding the release of Americans who have knowingly violated Mexican laws, such as Jon Hammar or Jabin Bogan.

Last week, Hunter wrote a letter to Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a letter that could have been drafter, and maybe was, from the executive suites in Grain Valley Missouri.

It’s just our opinion, but opinion backed up by anecdotal evidence, that with OOIDA’s continuing decline in membership numbers and the attendant loss of influence on Capital Hill, their D.C. lobbyists don’t have access to Rep. Schuster they’d like to have. And Rep. Schuster, by all accounts an honorable man, as his father was before him, isn’t inclined to move against the Cross Border Pilot Program as OOIDA and others would like.

So what are these “groundbreaking and grave concerns” Hunter has?

Hunter believes more congressional oversight and scrutiny may be in order given his perceived lackluster performance of FMCSA in overseeing the cross-border trucking pilot program with Mexico.

I find that claim amusing inasmuch as FMCSA oversight is far from lackluster. I reached out recently to an official with FMCSA who is closely involved in the day to day operation of the Cross Border Pilot Program asking why we hadn’t seen more movement in approvals. The response I received was;

We are close to finishing on a couple of others.  The main delays lie in checking out the “affiliations” of these carries.  Because of the history, most of these companies are associated with other companies and we are ensuring there are not past issues that would generate concerns about the suitability of the applicant, and Obtaining information from Mexico about the driver’s history.  Due to changes in the Mexican government, we must obtain the information from both SCT (the Dept of Transportation) and the Federal Police as well as the Mexican State.

Seems pretty clear cut to me the response I received from my friend within the FMCSA. Reading between the lines, it’s obvious they are going the extra mile to thwart more of OOIDA and Teamsters baseless and frivolous objections to future entrants into the program. And it certainly shows there is nothing “lackadaisical” about FMCSA oversight.

And what does Hunter cite as the basis for his “concerns” other than acting on the suggestion of “interested parties” who are not his constituents?

He is referring to an interim report issued by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General report dated  August 16, 2012.

This is what Hunter has to say. Where have we heard this before, practically word for word?

“Not only does this small number highlight the lack of enthusiasm for the program among Mexico-based motor carriers, but likely means that the FMCSA will need to extend the program’s three-year time limit in order to obtain accurate data. Effectively, they will have created a long-term policy without the structure, scrutiny and oversight necessarily required for highway regulation.

Hunter went on to say;

“Allowing any foreign-based carrier to use our roadways without adhering to our safety standards not only gives them a further competitive advantage, but endangers the lives of our drivers and the families who use our highway system.”

Two problems with this statement, obviously coming from Grain Valley Missouri. Mexican carriers are held to a much higher standard than US drivers and carriers even though the NAFTA accord only specifies “national treatment” for each of the three countries involved.  Mexican carriers are required to purchase US issued insurance in addition to the insurance coverage they are required to have in Mexico. Canadian carriers Canadian issued insurance is accepted in the US and vice versa.  Mexican carriers are required to display a current CVSA inspection sticker before entering the US, Canadians and US carriers are not. These pilot program participants are required to have a fully functioning EOBR device in their trucks, US and Canadians are not as of this date. Even though drug and alcohol testing are integrated into the application procedure for a Mexican equivalent of the CDL, Mexican carriers are required to have their drivers drug tested in US facilities. Canadian drivers are not required to be drug tested in their country nor when operating in the US. In Canada, drug testing without cause is a violation of Canada’s Human Rights laws.

And there are so many other discrepancies where Mexican carriers are held to a much higher standard, a standard which will never be acceptable to OOIDA or their allies in the bogus safety advocacy groups.

And perhaps there are several valid reasons for the lack of participation to date in the Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico. Chief among them is Mexican carries don’t operate as we do. Running here to there where the freight takes them just to be in the business of trailer trucking. If they don’t have contracts to haul into the US and back haul contracts back to Mexico, they are less liable to be interested. The Mexicans are astute businessmen and woman, know their numbers, their bottom line and what it takes to be profitable.

Also, the uncertainty which groups like OOIDA foster with their frivolous and baseless lawsuits and objections to new entrants. Would you, as a businessman, want to sink $10,000.00 or more into setting up compliance with US law which in many ways mirrors Mexican DOT compliance standards, just to have the rug jerked out from under you, as happened in 2009 when OOIDA and Teamsters, through their corrupt, bought and paid for Congress critters, was able to defund the 2007 program? By the way. How’d that work out for you? $250 billion dollars in perfectly legal tariffs in retaliation that cost tens of thousands of US jobs, lost market share in some of our industries. OOIDA and Teamsters talk about job losses because of the Mexican trucks. They are correct. OOIDA and Teamsters caused the loss of the aforementioned jobs by their actions.

At the end of his letter, Duncan Hunter, applying his lips to the posterior of Bill Schuster wrote;

“I firmly believe that under your leadership our committee can and will astutely address the important issues with which we are charged to handle.

There is one thing Hunter wrote that I do agree with in principal. He claims the lack of oversight, safety and financial concerns deserve an intensive review by the pertinent congressional committees. And they do.

Congress needs to look at what was required by Section 6901 of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veteran’s Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007 and other roadblocks Congress has established at the behest of opponents of Mexico and Mexican cross border trucking with an eye to repealing them. As we said previously, none of this appears in the NAFTA agreement and until Mexico has the same excess to the US as we allow the Canadians, we will still be in violation of our promises and obligations under the agreement.

Repeal NAFTA? Repeal the trucking related part of NAFTA? Not going to happen. Not when trade between our two countries increases year after year. And trade equates to jobs, on both sides of the border.

Opponents of Mexican trucks doing their damnedest to prevent a handful of new carriers from operating in this country, ignore several facts.

  1. Mexican carriers have had unlimited access and operating authority in the United States for more than 60 years. The pilot program participants are nothing new.
  2. Any Mexican carrier with cargo originating in Mexico and destined for Canada cannot be denied access to the United States. The only requirement is they abide by our rules and regulations.
  3. A Mexican carrier can apply for and receive limited specific authority to operate to specific points in the United States without the need to go through a PASA.

One thing OOIDA and others is betting the bank on and using their underhanded and deceitful tricks to achieve their goal is that the program will time out without enough participation to establish a “statistically valid sampling” of Mexican carriers to determine if they can operate safely and in compliance with our rules and regulations.

But what OOIDA and others refuse to acknowledge is that the data to establish the safety and compliance of Mexican carriers exists already.

Comparison of Inspection and Crash Statistics for US and Mexican Carriers (2007 – 2011) is part of a database of statistics maintained by the FMCSA A&I section and it’s accessible by all.

I spoke of the legacy carriers and other Mexican carriers with special operating authority in the United States in an earlier paragraph and in the database, they have a section all their own.

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US carriers can only be envious of such a low crash rate and superior safety score which underscores my contention that opposition to Mexican trucks, truckers and Mexico in general has absolutely nothing to do with safety or lack thereof. I think the reason is self evident.
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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.