US opens to Mexico long-haul trucking after three-year pilot

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced that Mexican motor carriers will soon be able to apply for authority to conduct long-haul, cross-border trucking services in the United States.

According to the DOT, opening the border to approved transport businesses will increase economic and export opportunities between the two countries – marking a “significant milestone” in implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The policy change is expected to result in the permanent termination of more than $2 billion in annual retaliatory tariffs on US goods and follows a three-year pilot program that tested and validated the safety of Mexican trucking companies to operate long-haul in the US.

“Opening the door to a safe cross-border trucking system with Mexico is a major step forward in strengthening our relationship with the nation’s third largest trading partner, and in meeting our obligations under NAFTA,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

“Data from the three-year pilot program, and additional analysis on almost 1,000 other Mexican long-haul trucking companies that transport goods into the United States, proved that Mexican carriers demonstrate a level of safety at least as high as their American and Canadian counterparts.”

Fifteen trucking companies from Mexico enrolled in the pilot that concluded in October, crossing the border more than 28,000 times, traveling more than 1.5 million miles in the US, and undergoing more than 5,500 safety inspections by American officials.

Data collected on the pilot carriers, and an additional 952 Mexican-owned trucking companies that also operated long-haul in the US during the same 36-month period under a pre-existing authority, showed that companies from Mexico had violation, driver, and vehicle out-of-service rates that met the level of safety as American and Canadian-domiciled motor carriers, according to the DOT.

Going forward, companies from Mexico that apply for long-haul operating authority in the US will be required to pass a Pre-Authorization Safety Audit to confirm they have adequate safety management programs in place – Including systems for monitoring hours-of-service and to conduct drug testing using an HHS-certified lab. Additionally, all drivers must possess a valid US Commercial Driver’s License or a Mexican Licencia Federal de Conductor, and must meet the agency’s English language proficiency requirements.

Like Canadian companies that are granted US operating authority, carriers and drivers from Mexico are required to comply with all laws and regulations, including regular border and random roadside inspections. Once the motor carrier is approved, their vehicles will be required to undergo a 37-point North American Standard Level 1 inspection every 90 days for at least four years.

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