The public comment period on the Department of Transportation's revised program to allow Mexican trucks access to U.S. highways closed last Friday. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says U.S. and Mexican government officials have met in recent months to set final details of the deal. The final rules could be announced in a matter weeks.
DOT said last month its three-year pilot program to allow Mexican trucks on U.S. roadways includes multiple safety-related steps. Those include a target of 4,100 vehicle inspections designed to test the safety of Mexican trucks, instead of establishing a number of carrier participants.
American Trucking Associations said in comments filed Friday that it supported the program generally, though it raised some concerns with the proposed plan.
"ATA has long viewed free trade as an important tool in improving our country's economic growth and has been a strong supporter of the North American Free Trade Agreement," ATA Vice President of Security and Operations Martin Rojas wrote in comments filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. "ATA commends the efforts by FMCSA to develop and implement a NAFTA pilot program for cross-border trucking."
Senator Jay Rockefeller, D- W.Va., called on LaHood and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to write tough regulations to ensure Mexican trucks are safe and don't jeopardize U.S. jobs. Rockefeller says he needs assurances that this new plan will meet those criteria before he can support this initiative. LaHood says the final agreement would address U.S. lawmakers' concerns.
To participate in the program, Mexican carriers would go through a three-phase process to gain operating authority in the United States. In addition to a 28-page application and other requirements, Mexican trucks and drivers would be subject to all U.S., state and local laws and electronic monitoring devices such as electronic onboard recorders would be attached to Mexican trucks.