Court to hear case on cross-border program

| October 17, 2012

The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association will present oral arguments against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s cross-border pilot program with Mexico Dec. 6.

A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia is set to hear the consolidated case, which includes plaintiffs Teamsters, Public Citizen and Sierra Club.

OOIDA has filed a challenge separate from the consolidated case regarding the National Registry of Medical Examiners. However, on Oct. 12, it asked the court to schedule oral arguments so both cases are heard at the same time and before the same judges.

FMCSA published a final rule establishing the registry April. 20. OOIDA has asserted the agency is not authorized to permit Mexican drivers to operate in the United States without a current valid medical certificate issued by a medical examiner listed on the registry. Before the final registry rule was published, the agency had argued the requirement was irrelevant because the registry had not been established.

FMCSA currently lists seven Mexican carriers as having authority through the program, each which operate one truck in the United States. Five companies list one driver each and two carriers list two drivers each.

Three of the seven carriers with authority are Mexican carriers that participated in the 2007–2009 demonstration project. The agency credits these carriers with the time it operated under the previous program.

Thirteen other carriers have applications pending in the program, including Transportes Monteblanco SA de CV and GCC Transportes SA de CV. On Sept.12 and Aug. 9 respectively, the agency requested comment on the Pre-Authorization Safety Audits for these two carriers. GCC has nine drivers and 13 vehicles, while Transportes Monteblanco has four drivers and two trucks.  As of Oct. 17, it had not granted authority to either carrier.

Additionally, FMCSA has dismissed three more applicants and a fourth withdrew its application.

One issue in the case is the program’s low participation, which the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General also noted in its Aug. 16 audit of the program. The OIG stated that the program needed procedural and monitoring improvement and lacks sufficient data and participation to draw safety conclusions.

Also in that audit, it noted the FMCSA had contracted with Teletrac, Inc., for the installation and monitoring of electronic monitoring equipment in program trucks. The contract was for one base year, which would have ended Aug. 31, but FMCSA renewed it to run until Aug. 2013.