Court hears new case against pilot program with Mexico

mexicoJust 18 days after ruling to uphold the program, a federal court heard new arguments May 6 against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s cross-border trucking pilot program with Mexico.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the FMCSA returned May 6 to the U.S. District of Columbia appeals court, but before a separate panel of judges presented arguments dealing with both the cross-border program and the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners created last year by FMCSA. The agency will begin requiring interstate CDL holders to have physicals and a medical examiner’s certificate from an examiner in the registry next year.

OOIDA’s arguments this time are that Mexican driver participants in the program are not required — like American drivers — to receive medical certification from a medical examiner approved by the FMCSA.

FMCSA contends it could only apply the Registry requirement to Mexican and Canadian drivers if Congress clearly intends to abrogate previous agreements regarding truckers from the two nations. However, Congress has not indicated such plans, FMCSA says.

The court refused the association’s request to consolidate the Registry litigation with the older case filed by OOIDA and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

On April 19, the court rejected the association’s assertions that safety and enforcement standards are lower for program participants than U.S. CDL holders. OOIDA argued this would violate federal pilot program regulations, which require participants to meet safety standards equivalent to non-program participants.

Ten Mexican carriers have participated in the program in its first 18 months. According to FMCSA’s aggregate data:

  • The agency had performed 935 inspections, 583 which were conducted on GCC Transporte.
  • Participants drove 283,279 miles in U.S. border states. Texas led with 163,120 miles and Arizona had the least with 826 miles.
  • Florida led with 11,686 miles of the 49,713 miles driven in non-border states.
  • Texas had the most and least popular border crossings, with 1,230 trips made at Ysleta, but only one at Colombia Solidarity in Laredo.

There’s been no word on when the court will make a ruling. Click here to see Overdrive‘s coverage of the ruling from April 22.