Revisiting the Mexican Cross Border Controversy Part 1 by Timothy D. Brady

CVSA_MXCDLOn January 10, 2014, a conference was held at the US Supreme Court to decide whether the full court would hear OOIDA’s latest ludicrous attempt to shut down the legitimate and successful Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico. OOIDA, attempting to coerce the Court to accept as truth, allegations consisting of conclusions of law, inferences or deductions that are not necessarily implied by well-pleaded facts, unreasonable inferences or
unsupported conclusions from such facts, or legal conclusions alleged as facts, is trying to undo a Memorandum of Understanding that has held strong for 20 years agreeing that Mexican and US CDL are in fact very similar and valid for use in each country.

Tim Brady, with 25 years in the trucking industry as a company driver, owner/operator and small trucking business owner is a business coach, journalist, published author and motivational speaker and a man I’m proud to call a friend, wrote the following article earlier in the year.

Revisiting the Mexican Cross Border Controversy Part 1 by Timothy D. Brady

Last month (May, 2013), the U.S. Court of Appeals threw a curve ball at the Owner Operator and Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the Teamsters by reversing a lower court ruling that truckers with Mexican truck driver’s licenses can’t drive on U.S. highways. The court ruled that the pilot cross-border truck program, which is being directed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), was legal because of a pair of congressional bills that authorized “equivalency” to Mexican driver’s licenses to the United State’s CDL.

OOIDA has requested a rehearing on the issue, claiming the Appeals Court ruling was “contrary to decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States and the precedents of this circuit.”

The Obama Administration, along with two previous administrations, has argued that the cross-border trucking program is necessary to increase the efficiency of cross-border trade with our neighbor to the south.

So who is correct? OOIDA and the Teamsters, saying that allowing Mexican-licensed truckers driving Mexican trucking companies’ trucks on U.S. highways presents a danger to the American motoring public? Or as the current administration is saying, that it presents great economic opportunity to both nations by increasing efficiency of the supply chain between the two nations?
In this blog let’s look at the safety issue that’s the concern of OOIDA and the Teamsters.

In a statement from Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of OOIDA, “Truckers here face ever-increasing restrictions in the name of safety, while no such expectations are in place in Mexico. To allow access puts jobs at risk and endangers our highways.”

In response to the safety assertion by OOIDA, representatives of the Mexican government have stressed over and over that the Teamsters and OOIDA are really more concerned about protectionism and know full well Mexican carriers and drivers are as safe as or safer than their U.S. counterparts.

A spokesperson from the Mexican Embassy said, “The original decision to end the program was never about the safety of America’s roads; it was driven by protectionism, the costs of which are borne by businesses, workers and consumers in our two nations.”

In fact, Mexican transportation industry representatives both private sector and government, make the claim that Mexican truckers are safer than their US counterparts. And there are statistics that support their argument:
Let’s start with OOS orders. United States licensed CDL holders operating a CMV on U.S. highways have a OOS rate of 5.3%. Mexican truckers are put out of service 0.9%. For truck-involved crashes with a fatality, 0.067% of U.S. truckers are involved. Mexican truckers, 0.0051%. Looking at the safety stats of the two country’s truck drivers, over and over, the percentages are lower for the Mexican trucker than the US trucker. ( )

What is the difference between how each is regulated? Simply put, the U.S. attempts to micro-regulate its truckers, whereas Mexico creates safety through severe consequences.

What would cause a Mexican trucker to have his Mexican CDL revoked? Causes for a Mexican Federal Driver’s Permit to be revoked are far more stringent than in the U.S. Examples of violations in Mexico that would get a trucker’s license revoked include 3 speeding tickets in 3 years, or 3 violations of the seat belt law. Below is the Spanish-to-English translation from the Mexican trucking regulations:

The revocation of the license [for a] vehicle of Federal Public Service, in the following cases:

1.  By enforceable judgment of the judicial authority, imposed as a punishment, that revocation.

2.  By driving a car, [while licensed] to the Federal Public Service, under the influence of alcohol or the effects of narcotic drugs.

3.  For any situation/act committed during the operation of a vehicle for Federal Public Service, against passengers or by having [harm to] the benefit of the goods transported.

4.  Abandonment of the vehicle or people in case of accident, which involved the vehicle for Federal Public Service.

5.  By committing three times [a] violation of the provisions on maximum speed allowed in a period of three years.

6.  Being responsible for three road accidents with damage to property, in a period of twelve months.

7.  Being responsible for two accidents with toll of injured or dead.

8.  To be responsible for any alteration of the information contained in the Federal License [issued to the] driver.

9.  By engaging on the third occasion in the operation [of], or driving without using the seat belt, without prejudice to article 2007 infraction of this regulation.

10. By engaging in acts or omissions contrary to that provided for in this regulation; in the opinion of the Secretary of Communications and Transport, “serious” acts or omissions.

Anyone knows the more you try and control any segment of the population, the more you will either dumb down the quality of those individuals–or they will revolt. This is why there’s a shortage of 200,000 truck drivers in the U.S. U.S. truckers are not treated with respect; companies are looking for ‘steering wheel holders’ and train them poorly. Drivers are micro-managed to where every 15 minutes of their day is regulated and tracked. They aren’t given the needed latitude to make safe decisions. The only place U.S. truckers are given any latitude is in the punishment for driving violations. As an example, a trucker in Texas convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter serves one year imprisonment and community service. In Mexico, the same offense conviction is 30 to 60 years imprisonment plus loss of the privilege to drive for life.

The consequences of violating the driving laws in Mexico are far more severe than when a driver is convicted in the U.S. Even the fines in Mexico are based on a driver’s earnings, and are usually from 300 to 500 times what someone earns. The Mexican approach to highway and truck safety is, “if you want safety, then provide stiff consequences for those who violate the rules of the road.” But to say Mexican carriers are not safe is just not true. And their numbers prove it.

So if it’s not safety as OOIDA and the Teamsters contend, than what is the genesis of this anti-cross-border trucking with Mexico issue? It must be economics. So in second part of this blog post, let’s look at the economics of trade with Mexico and how trucking plays a major role in its success or failure.

Drive long and prosper, and remember, being safe is our first priority; getting the freight there is our second.

Timothy Brady ©2013

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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.