FMCSA unveils cross-border trucking plan

Updated Apr 11, 2011

Mexican Border OdThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced proposal details of cross-border trucking project with Mexico, which will require fewer participants and equip participating Mexican trucks with GPS or electronic on-board recorders.

The FMCSA’s April 8 plan for a cross-border trucking project with Mexico otherwise contained few details not already disclosed by Mexican or U.S. officials or contained in the previous program Congress ended in 2009. 

The agency’s notice and request for comment on the plan will be published soon in the Federal Register. After that, the public will have 30 days to comment. The FMCSA will formally respond to feedback and consider public comment in forming its final program.

The initial pilot project sought 100 carriers each from Mexico and the United States to participate, but the program failed to get sufficient participation to form statistically valid conclusions.

A sample size of 4,100 roadside inspections performed on pilot program participants will allow FMCSA to detect differences in violation rates of 2 percentage points or greater with a 90 percent confidence level.

The agency anticipates an average of one long-haul border crossing per week per truck with each Mexican carrier having two trucks participating in the program. It assumes an attrition rate of 25 percent after 18 months in the project and calculates 46 carriers will suffice to achieve a target of 4,100 inspections within three years.

The target sample size in the previous project was to estimate differences in crash rates between U.S. carriers and participants, FMCSA officials said.

But the current study focuses on measuring safety performance primarily in terms of violation rates, which it estimates using an inspection as a sampling unit.

Also, this program could last up to three years, while the previous program was to run 18 months. The longer time period should result in more participant data, officials said.

If participants don’t achieve this level of activity, more carries will be required. If the carriers have more crossings than anticipated, then fewer carriers will be needed.

The agency’s recent announcement that it would buy and install EOBRs at federal expense created controversy, but the proposal now will allow Mexican carriers the option of using GPS or EOBR. The FMCSA provided GPS systems for Mexican participants in the initial program.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association responded that Mexico lacks equivalent safety standards. OOIDA and some congressional members said the U.S. should have challenged the legality of retaliatory tariffs Mexico imposed on U.S. exports after the first program ended.

OOIDA spokesman Todd Spencer noted that despite the tariffs, 2010 truck-based trade with Mexico increased by 27.6 percent over 2009 and the bulk of the hike was from U.S. goods going to Mexico. “Succumbing to Mexico’s bullying provides a handy attack plan for them and other governments in future trade disputes,” Spencer said.  

The American Trucking Associations welcomed the proposal, which it said requires Mexican carriers to comply with U.S. standards and provides sufficient oversight to enforce these rules.

Mexican carrier participants would have to complete three stages before the FMCSA issues permanent operating authority. Provisional or permanent operating authority may be suspended or revoked during the pilot program if the carrier violates pilot program rules or has a substandard safety performance.

The agency can also revoke or suspend operating authority during the program if the carrier transported passengers or placardable hazmat or is operating beyond the scope of its authority.

Mexican participants are eligible to convert their permanent authority granted during the program to standard permanent authority, similar to U.S.-domiciled carriers, upon the completion of the program. FMCSA intends this to be an administrative process conducted at the program’s end.

The notice is available at:

The public may comment on the notice by including the notice’s docket number, FMCSA-2011-0097:

  • Via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://
  • By faxing comments to (202) 493-2251.
  • By mailing comments to the Docket Management Facility, (M–30), U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE, West Building, Ground Floor, Room 12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

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