EDITORIAL: Mexican trucks should keep on trucking in US - The Monitor: Opinion

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EDITORIAL: Mexican trucks should keep on trucking in US

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Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 12:02 am

It’s been two years since the Obama administration opened U.S. roadways to Mexican freight trucks, amid protests from protectionists, truckers’ unions and others who insisted that Mexican trucks and those who drove them, weren’t fit to be on our U.S. roads.

But those fears have not proven to be true.

In fact, it’s likely that most drivers haven’t noticed any difference between Mexican commercial vehicles and their U.S. or Canadian counterparts motoring alongside them.

The North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 1994, gave freight trucks from the United States, Mexico and Canada full access to the roadways of all three countries. But the Clinton administration, under pressure from U.S. trucking interests, issued a temporary moratorium on access to Mexican trucks. There were concerns that the vehicles and their drivers were somehow inferior and posed a safety hazard for U.S. drivers. This “temporary” ban stretched on for more than 17 years.

The George W. Bush administration, however, quietly launched a pilot program giving trucks from across the border limited access. This went largely unnoticed until it was discovered as a funding item in a budget bill.

On July 8, 2011, President Barack Obama opened our roadways to Mexican trucks. And after two years, it appears that Mexican trucks are fitting in quite nicely. These vehicles are steadily bringing in billions of dollars worth of Mexican goods to U.S. markets and transporting our products to consumers across the border. They aren’t driving us off the road nor breaking down en masse in the middle of roadways — as previously feared.

As sensible trade proponents have insisted all along, Mexican vehicles are typically bought from the same companies that supply U.S. freight lines and, for the most part, are maintained just as well as American trucks. If not, these big rigs would not  get past inspection stations at U.S. ports of entry and would be detained at inspection stations along highways in Texas and across the U.S.

Accident information, sorted by country of registration, wasn’t immediately available from the U.S. or Texas departments of transportation. However, safety progress reports from the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicate that total accidents, injuries and deaths have actually declined in the two years since Mexican trucks have had access to our roads.

Some 4,200 fewer large-truck crashes, of all nationalities, were reported in 2012 from 2010. There were 150 fewer fatalities and 3,700 fewer injuries in 2012 also.

Last month alone, 1,006 border crossings were reported from Mexico, drawing 735 inspections. Of all those inspections, just four trucks were taken out of service and four drivers weren’t allowed to continue. That means nearly every truck and driver has all the necessary paperwork and is passing safety inspections.

Those inspections, and the overall vigilance of properly maintaining cargo vehicles, regardless of nationality, indeed must continue for the betterment of trade and commerce amongst all three NAFTA nations. And hopefully these statistics will put to rest fears that Americans have about Mexican trucks and prompt more people to believe they should keep on trucking here.

It’s been two years since the Obama administration opened U.S. roadways to Mexican freight trucks, amid protests from protectionists, truckers’ unions and others who insisted that Mexican trucks and those who drove them, weren’t fit to be on our U.S. roads.

But those fears have not proven to be true.

In fact, it’s likely that most drivers haven’t noticed any difference between Mexican commercial vehicles and their U.S. or Canadian counterparts motoring alongside them.

The North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 1994, gave freight trucks from the United States, Mexico and Canada full access to the roadways of all three countries. But the Clinton administration, under pressure from U.S. trucking interests, issued a temporary moratorium on access to Mexican trucks. There were concerns that the vehicles and their drivers were somehow inferior and posed a safety hazard for U.S. drivers. This “temporary” ban stretched on for more than 17 years.

The George W. Bush administration, however, quietly launched a pilot program giving trucks from across the border limited access. This went largely unnoticed until it was discovered as a funding item in a budget bill.

On July 8, 2011, President Barack Obama opened our roadways to Mexican trucks. And after two years, it appears that Mexican trucks are fitting in quite nicely. These vehicles are steadily bringing in billions of dollars worth of Mexican goods to U.S. markets and transporting our products to consumers across the border. They aren’t driving us off the road nor breaking down en masse in the middle of roadways — as previously feared.

As sensible trade proponents have insisted all along, Mexican vehicles are typically bought from the same companies that supply U.S. freight lines and, for the most part, are maintained just as well as American trucks. If not, these big rigs would not get past inspection stations at U.S. ports of entry and would be detained at inspection stations along highways in Texas and across the U.S.

Accident information, sorted by country of registration, wasn’t immediately available from the U.S. or Texas departments of transportation. However, safety progress reports from the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicate that total accidents, injuries and deaths have actually declined in the two years since Mexican trucks have had access to our roads.

Some 4,200 fewer large-truck crashes, of all nationalities, were reported in 2012 from 2010. There were 150 fewer fatalities and 3,700 fewer injuries in 2012 also.

Last month alone, 1,006 border crossings were reported from Mexico, drawing 735 inspections. Of all those inspections, just four trucks were taken out of service and four drivers weren’t allowed to continue. That means nearly every truck and driver has all the necessary paperwork and is passing safety inspections.

Those inspections, and the overall vigilance of properly maintaining cargo vehicles, regardless of nationality, indeed must continue for the betterment of trade and commerce amongst all three NAFTA nations. And hopefully these statistics will put to rest fears that Americans have about Mexican trucks and prompt more people to believe they should keep on trucking here.

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