FEBRUARY 26, 2007
Substandard trucks driven by low-paid, unqualified Mexican drivers that will threaten national security and endanger American motorists will travel freely throughout the United States under a new Bush Administration pilot project.
The program will lift the current restrictions in place for Mexican truck companies that deliver goods into the U.S. and must remain within the 25-mile commercial zone along the Southwest border. In about 60 days Mexican truck companies will be free to travel from Mexico throughout the United States and back.
The Department of Transportation quietly announced the program by highlighting how U.S. trucks will, for the first time, be allowed to make deliveries in Mexico as part of a cross border trucking operation. Transportation officials ignored the seriousness of unqualified Mexicans driving big rigs on U.S. highways, instead saying that only a “select ” group of Mexican trucking companies will be allowed to make deliveries and that U.S. inspectors would assure all safety standards are met.
One National Transportation Safety Board member doubts that overwhelmed U.S. inspectors who already lack the personnel to conduct safety reviews of at-risk domestic carriers can take on the additional task. “The situation only gets worse if resources are diverted to the border,” said the board member, Debbie Hersman.
The president of one of the world’s largest labor unions, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, says allowing foreign truckers to travel freely in the U.S., not only risks national security, it is like playing a game of Russian Roulette on America’s highways. This is because Mexican drivers don’t meet U.S. requirements that include enforcement of hours to prevent fatigue, commercial drivers’ licenses, regular physicals, age limits and drug and alcohol tests.
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