The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is pushing ahead with a program to install satellite tracking devices in tractor trailers that are participating in a test program. FMCSA's tracking system is a way to allow free access to U.S. highways by Mexican truckers.
In September, the Senate voted to prohibit spending on the test program, but the measure has not yet been passed by the full Congress. Despite the Senate's action, FMCSA is pushing forward. FMCSA is spending $367,000 to provide the devices to the trucking companies before any measure passes Congress.
Following the passage of NAFTA, trucks from the U.S. and Mexico were allowed to pass a short distance (about 20 miles in most areas) into each country to make deliveries more efficient. Trade groups have pushed for free travel, but safety advocates have expressed concerns over lax enforcement of safety regulations in Mexico.
FMCSA appears to be using the program to pacify the concerns over truck safety that prompted the Senate to take a stand against allowing Mexican truckers into the U.S. interior. The test program will pay for 100 devices to be given, apparently free of charge, to companies wishing to participate. What's in it for the big trucking companies? Quite simply, it means that Mexican drivers will gain access to the U.S. interior.
The problem is that FMCSA appears to be positioning to use the record of the test program volunteers to prove the safety of the industry as a whole. Of course, no one expects the companies with abysmal safety records to volunteer now. Instead, they can wait until the FMCSA declares the test program a success and access to our roads is granted to all Mexican truckers. FMCSA should stop wasting our tax dollars on a rigged test!
What I am opposed to are unsafe truckers. Unfortunately, the Mexican government has done far too little to enact and enforce safe trucking regulation. As a result, there is no incentive for most Mexican trucking companies to bring their drivers and trucks up to U.S. standards. Until FMCSA can honestly assure the American public that Mexican trucks are as safe as U.S. trucks, they have no business on our roads.
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