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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that 80,000 American and Mexican trucks made roughly 4.5 million crossings of their shared border in 1999.

The estimates stem from a study, called Estimates of Commercial Motor Vehicles Using the Southwest Border Crossings. It was conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Based on three different analyses using data collected in 1999, it also shows that during 2000, federal and state inspectors performed approximately 97,000 inspections of vehicles engaged in cross-border operations.

At present, Mexican commercial trucking companies can apply for authority to operate in “commercial zones” associated with municipalities along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Approximately 8,500 companies currently have such authority. The Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 confined most Mexican motor carriers to these border commercial zones as defined by the former Interstate Commerce Commission. The commercial zones are often characterized as a 20-mile-wide area extending along the United States-Mexico border from Texas to California.

All commercial vehicles operating in the United States, foreign and domestic, must comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and all other requirements applicable to U.S. carriers, the FMCSA notes.

The U.S. has pledged to open its border and trucking industry to comply with international trade rules following a panel ruling last winter.

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