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DOT sets safety requirements for Mexican trucks

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. government has set the ground rules for Mexican trucking companies wishing to operate i...

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. government has set the ground rules for Mexican trucking companies wishing to operate in the fifty states.

Calling the measures “tough,” the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) says the rules will ensure that rigs rolling across the U.S.’s southern border meet domestic safety standards.

The safety requirements govern all Mexican motor carriers “operating to and from” the United States and require that all motor carrier safety inspectors, auditors, and investigators be certified.

“President Bush and I are committed to extending the benefits of free trade throughout North America while ensuring that a strict and rigorous safety regime is established and enforced,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

The new rules are a key step toward opening the border for Mexican truck and bus operations, which is expected by mid-year, the DOT explains.

With the new regulations, Mexican carriers applying to operate anywhere in the U.S. will be required to have a distinctive USDOT number, have their vehicles pass a safety inspection, and undergo “intensified” safety monitoring during an 18-month provisional period.

They also must provide “supplemental safety certifications” as part of the application process, the DOT says.

Mexican commercial vehicles will be permitted to enter the U.S. only at commercial border crossings and only when a certified motor-carrier safety inspector is on duty.

The regulations also will require Mexican carriers to have a drug and alcohol-testing program, a system of compliance with U.S. federal Hours-of-Service requirements, adequate data and safety management systems, and valid insurance with a U.S. registered insurance company.

The carrier’s ability to meet these requirements will be verified by a safety audit conducted by qualified U.S. inspectors prior to receiving provisional authority to operate to and from the U.S.

At least half of these safety audits, which are to be conducted by qualified inspectors, must take place in Mexico, the DOT says.

In addition to safety audits, all Mexican carriers granted provisional operating authority will undergo full safety compliance reviews during the 18-month provisional period.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) intends to provide Mexican carriers educational and technical assistance before the border opens and as they apply for operating authority.

The FMCSA says it plans to publish similar rules later this year for all new entrant carriers who seek motor carrier authority to operate in the U.S.

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