DOT Issues Mexico/US Cross Border Trucking Discussion Document

by TJ on January 9, 2011

In a move which is guaranteed to be hotly debated the US Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a discussion document for a US/Mexico agreement on cross border trucking.  Soon, Mexican operators could be enjoying the same trucking privileges in the United States as Canadian operators do.  The issue has deeply divided the trucking community – manufacturers think the idea is a good one, but trucking associations and safety groups think this is very bad.

On the manufacturers side, they believe that they will be able to see a reduction in costs as cheaper Mexican operators will be able to bring goods and materials across the border and deliver direct to an onward destination.  Currently, Mexican operators have to restrict their operations to the border area, which involves costly load-dropping and re-assignment before the load finally continues it’s journey to its ultimate destination elsewhere within the US.  On driver costs alone, there will be huge savings – the average Mexican take home pay is around a third of that of their US counterparts!

This leads neatly into why the cross-border trucking deal is such a bad idea.  The trucking industry has still to recover from the effects of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1920’s.  There is a massive trucker shortage, but with 150,000 jobs shed during the worst of the recession, the industry has already demonstrated how resilient it is by creating 200,000 jobs in 2010 and is looking to do at least the same again in 2011.

Do we really want those hard-earned jobs being reassigned to operators south of the border?

The answer is obviously “No”, but that is what many observers fear will be the result, further dragging back the US economic recovery with high unemployment.

A second argument cited by observers against the cross-border deal is safety.  Trucking safety has been hard won, and at great expense in terms of implementing monitoring, regulation and most of all, the inculcating of a compliance and safety conscious industry at grass roots level up.  Standards are simply not the same in Mexico as they are in the US, and there are numerous instances of substandard equipment operating in both Mexico and on the US side of the border.

Many buyers of US used semi trailers and tractor units are from Mexico, where safety standards will allow for equipment to be operated on their roads, but which are no longer considered as being able to meet US safety standards.  Is it realistic to expect that Mexican operators will be able to afford the investment in training and equipment, let alone the technical know-how required, to produce satisfactory standards of road safety which US operators must comply with?

The DOT stresses this is simply a “discussion document” – we suggest you move over to OOIDA and get discussing!

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