Keeping tabs

| November 01, 2007

The U.S. and Mexican governments plan to track by satellite each vehicle participating in the ongoing cross-border trucking program, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced Sept. 27.

How much longer the program will last, however, is unclear. Although the U.S. House and U.S. Senate each are on record as wanting to zero out funding for the Bush administration’s program, it apparently will continue for at least a few weeks more.

The new fiscal year began Oct. 1, and the House and Senate have yet to pass a consensus version of the U.S. Department of Transportation appropriations bill. Instead, Congress apparently will pass a so-called continuing resolution that will provide funding while lawmakers resolve differences on the various appropriations bills.

On Sept. 26, the House passed its version of the continuing resolution (H.J. Res. 52), which continues federal funding of all DOT programs through Nov. 16. Although some special provisions are attached, a funding prohibition on the cross-border program is not one of them. The final version of the appropriations bill still could kill the program at a later date.

In the meantime, the FMCSA said it intends to award a contract to provide satellite terminals at no cost to participating U.S. and Mexican carriers. “This will give us the ability to monitor every vehicle from Mexico and ensure all companies are following our strict safety requirements,” said John Hill, FMCSA administrator.

At least some of the cross-border trucks already are tracked by satellite. For example, the website of one of the U.S. carriers certified to haul into Mexico, Stagecoach Cartage & Distribution, says the company provides “satellite tracked equipment for time and service sensitive customers.”

The real-time wireless GPS tracking will be used to monitor hours of service and dates and times of border crossings, including borders of U.S. and Mexican states, the FMCSA said. Tracking also will spot any violators of the rules against foreign operators hauling domestic freight, the agency said.

No driver information will be collected or tracked, only vehicles by number and company, the FMCSA said.

For years, Mexican trucks operating in the United States have been limited to a 25-mile border commercial zone, while U.S. trucks have been barred from all of Mexico. The program launched Sept. 6 allows long-haul operations for up to 100 Mexican carriers throughout the United States and for up to 100 U.S. carriers throughout Mexico.

A list of U.S. and Mexican trucking companies that have received authority to participate in the project is at
- Avery Vise

Court Stays Hours Change Until Dec. 27
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided late Sept. 28 to hold the current hours-of-service regulations in place until Dec. 27 to give the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration time to consider changes in the rule in light of the court’s July 24 decision.

In its July opinion, the court voided the 11 hours of driving and the 34-hour restart on the grounds that the public didn’t have adequate notice of FMCSA’s methodology for analyzing crash risk.

The American Trucking Associations had asked the court for an eight-month stay of the decision. FMCSA, in strongly supporting ATA’s request, asked that the stay remain in place for 12 months.

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