WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Transportation wasted little time in trying to comply with an order by Congress to disclose more public information on its plan to allow 100 Mexican for-hire carriers to cross the American border.
The DOT, which has been forced to delay the project, says it has published additional details about the safety standards and inspection program in place for its cross-border trucking demonstration program in a supplemental Federal Register.
Last month, Congress and the Senate passed a funding bill that keeps Mexican truckers restricted to the 20-mile limit until the DOT’s inspector general has reviewed the program and determines U.S. safety rules and conditions on Mexican trucks that travel beyond the commercial zone will be properly enforced.
The DOT must also provide the public with, among other information, details of exactly how it will make sure the pilot program is safe and that all drivers are able to speak English, as required by law.
The notice includes, among other items, information about the cross-border trucking demonstration program, including pre-authorization safety audits of Mexican trucking companies, which are conducted by U.S. auditors in Mexico.
It also details specific measures “already in place to protect public health and safety” — including roadside inspections, safety ratings, compliance reviews and civil penalties — as well as English language proficiency requirements and a review of U.S. motor carrier safety laws and corresponding Mexican regulations.
Although the notice addresses many concerns stated in Congress’ funding bill, critics of the Mexican truck plan say it falls short on providing any details. Some opponents fear the notice is a clear attempt by the DOT to ram through the pilot on schedule.
“It’s apparent the Bush administration is thumbing its nose at the will of the American people and Congress,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “That DOT would even consider starting the cross-border program now is brazen and outlandish. This is a half-baked effort at complying with the important safety requirements put in place by the supplemental funding bill.”
OOIDA, along with a handful of other groups, already have a lawsuit tabled, which seeks an injunction of the Mexican truck program.
The supplemental notice, which is available online at http://dmses.dot.gov/docimages/p101/472439.pdf, will be open for comment until June 28.
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