Conclusions in US-Mexico Cross-Border Trucking Demonstration Project, commissioned by the US Department of Transportation, are that the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) has “adequate site-specific plans for commercial truck crossings and for conducting the truck checks and inspections…” The independent panel did not look at matters of security, the environment, customs or immigration in the controversial 12-month project.

While the FMCSA had projected that 100 Mexican carriers would participate in the project, just 25 operated some 100 trucks, far fewer than the 500 that had been anticipated. The Cross-Border program allows Mexican carriers to move freight beyond the 3 to 25 commercial zone north of the border between the two countries. It does not permit cabotage. According to the report, most of the demonstration trucks operated only within the border zone.

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Three conclusions drawn in the evaluation support its contention that the FMCSA is carrying out its mission, in so far as safety inspections are concerned. It says, “that 1) Pre-Authority Safety Audits (PASAs) were comprehensive and the agency conducted all the audits on-site in Mexico, 2) FMCSA honored its commitment to check every truck every time at the border, and 3) FMCSA provided state safety enforcement officers with guidance on enforcing safety requirements for the demonstration project.”

Calling attention to the report’s conclusions, the FMCSA Administrator, John H. Hill, issued a statement noting, “Transportation Secretary Mary Peters today released the final report produced by the Independent Evaluation Panel on the Cross Border Truck Demonstration Project. This report provides a comprehensive, independent, analysis of the safety measures the agency put in place to ensure the success of the project. As the report makes clear, those measures have effectively shown that US and Mexican carriers can safely engage in cross-border trucking operations while providing US drivers new opportunities to compete and succeed in a market where they previously were unable to operate.”

In early August Secretary Peters, through a statement by FMCSA’s Hill, announced the intention of extending the cross-border program for another two years. The project has never sat well with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Also among those opposing the program is the US House of Representatives that passed a bill banning funding for the pilot project. In reaction to the extension of the program, Teamster general president, James P. Hoffa, said, ”The blatant disregard that Peters, Hill and the Bush administration have shown to Congress, which has time and again expressed overwhelming opposition to this unsafe program, is outrageous….it is inexcusable that the DOT and Bush Administration continue to defy the will of the American people and flout the letter of the law.”