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Truck Drivers Crossing Border Pose Safety Risks

The McClellan Law Firm

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was negotiated throughout the early 1990’s and went into effect in 1994, opening up trade between Canada, North America, and Mexico. The Office of the United States Trade Representative claims that this agreement has boosted American exports and created millions of American jobs. A few concerns have risen over this agreement throughout the years, namely truck accidents and substandard safety measures on the part of Mexico-domicile carriers.

Original Blog Revised January 2016

Questionable Safety Standards

Certain regulations in the agreement restricted trucks from Mexico to only travel 25 miles from the border ports of entry. Advocates of the 25-mile limit argued that it prevented serious semi-truck crashes because Mexico’s regulation and safety inspections of their trucks were not up to U.S. standards. Also, in the case of an accident, it becomes exponentially more difficult to hold Mexico-based truck companies or manufacturers liable for injuries or medical bills.

Since the NAFTA has several articles stating that the U.S. must allow Mexico motor carriers to conduct long-haul operations into its borders, Mexico filed a complaint challenging certain bans set in place by various presidents to restrict their commercial trucks. One article stated that the moratorium on Mexico-domiciled motor carriers’ operations was to be lifted incrementally until full access was provided by the year 2000.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Project

In 2007, The U.S. Secretary of Transportation and her Mexican counterpart signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to begin a project that would assess the safety of Mexico carriers operating in long-haul trucking. This program was cut short due to funding; however, three years later a working group was established to consider the next steps in implementing a cross-border long-haul trucking program. In 2011, a first applicant was granted authority to cross the U.S.-Mexican border to transport international goods.

FMCSA Pilot Program

Since then, the FMCSA implemented a program to approve carriers and provide data for review on the safety of Mexico-domicile carriers.

An overview of the steps to approve a Mexico-domicile carrier in the Pilot Program were as follows:

  • Proper forms must be completed and approved for further consideration
  • Carriers must be reviewed for safety issues
  • Background checks are run on drivers through the Department of Homeland Security’s database
  • A carrier’s safety management system is inspected for adequate standards
  • Drivers qualifications are reviewed and previous violations considered

From 2011 to 2014, the Pilot Program collected data to assess the safety performance of approved motor carriers allowed to operate in long-haul transportation beyond the commercial zones.

FMCSA Program Findings

By the end of the program, the Department of Transportation concluded that Mexico-domiciled motor carriers conducting long-haul operations beyond the commercial zones of the U.S. operate at a level of safety that is equivalent to the level of safety of U.S. and Canada-domiciled motor carriers. Only specific carriers are grouped in these findings and continue to operate within U.S. and Canada borders and continuing inspections and oversight discourage unqualified carriers or drivers from participating.

So, What Does That Mean For You?

If you are living in a border city, such as San Diego, you can rest assured knowing that huge advancements in inspections and truck safety for both short and long-haul carriers have been implemented. Nevertheless, if you find yourself involved in a truck accident, it is imperative that you get the legal counsel you need. Large truck carriers often employ teams of highly skilled lawyers to protect their interests. Turn to the San Diego truck accident lawyers at the McClellan Law Firm to help you fight for just compensation.

Contact ustoday to learn more about your options!