For the Record

Truckers News Staff | September 01, 2010

Border Deadline

Amendment addresses NAFTA trucking program

Jill Dunn


Next fiscal year’s federal transportation bill directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish and report on a cross-border trucking program with Mexico by October.

Sen. Patty Murray inserted the requirement in the Fiscal Year 2011 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill July 26. The Washington state Democrat added the language to S. 3644 to end retaliatory tariffs Mexico instituted last year following Congress’ vote to discontinue the pilot project program, which allowed a limited number of carriers from both nations to deliver beyond the commercial border zone.

The amendment requires the program maintain road safety, enhance efficient movement of commerce and eliminate retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products.

The bill passed the Senate subcommittee, which Murray chairs, and the Appropriations committee, and will go to the full Senate for consideration.

President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón discussed cross-border trucking May 19, but the issue was not resolved, according to a congressional report released last month.

“The cost to federal taxpayers of ensuring Mexican truck safety, estimated by the U.S. DOT to be over $500 million as of March 2008, appears to be disproportionate to the amount of dollars saved thus far by U.S. importers or exporters that have been able to utilize long-haul trucking authority,” the researcher reported.

If Mexican carriers receive long-haul authority, the short-term impact in the United States is expected to be gradual. These carriers face a lack of prearranged back hauls, higher insurance and capital costs, as well as customs processing delays. In the long term, use of drayage companies will probably decrease as they lose market share to Mexican long-haul carriers.

U.S. companies leasing Mexican trucks and drivers may become a major implementation issue. North American Free Trade Agreement implementation ends the prohibition on leasing to allow Mexican trucks and drivers to operate beyond the border zone. If a U.S. firm also arranges for work visas for leased Mexican drivers, it could make them available for more cabotage loads. This could have Mexican drivers competing more often against American drivers in the United States. If this is the case, the researcher suggested Congress may want to revisit the issue.




Truck Tonnage Index Falls

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.4 percent in June, although May’s reduction was revised from 0.6 percent to just 0.1 percent. May and June marked the first back-to-back contractions since March and April 2009.

Class 8 Orders Increase 93 Percent

Net orders for heavy-duty Class 8 commercial vehicles reached the highest level of the year in June, posting an increase of 93 percent compared to June 2009, according to ACT Research Co. In the latest release of the State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Vehicles, ACT reported 15,999 net orders of Class 8 vehicles, 21 percent higher than May.

Idling Regulations Adds Three

The American Transportation Research Institute has added three new idling regulations to its listing of state and local regulations. North Carolina and Detroit have established 5-minute idling limits and West Virginia a 15-minute limit — all with notable temperature exemptions. TRI’s complete online listing can be found at strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.