MARCH 12, 2008
A crucial safety provision of a controversial program that allows Mexican trucks to travel anywhere in the United States has been repeatedly violated, putting Americans at risk of being victimized by a third-world country’s dismal safety standards.
When the U.S. government launched the Cross Border Trucking Demonstration Project, officials promised lawmakers and the public that all Mexican drivers and vehicles crossing the border would be inspected. After all, the program, which is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), allows Mexicans to drive freely with their huge cargos on America’s highways.
Labor unions vehemently opposed the deal, pointing out that Mexico has low safety standards and many Mexican drivers lack proficiency in English and are suspected of drug use. The Bush Administration responded with assurances that all drivers and vehicles would undergo strict inspections before entering the country.
But six months after the cross border program was launched, the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General says it has failed to ensure that checks of all Mexican drivers and vehicles crossing the border are occurring as the Bush Administration promised Congress.
An alarming 17-page report reveals that the key quality control measure promised to Congress has not been implemented. Rules require that each Mexican truck undergo a thorough safety compliance check and that U.S. inspectors assure that each driver be proficient in English and have a valid license.
While thousands have in fact undergone the inspections at a couple dozen specific border crossings, many have not. The Transportation Department Inspector General points out that it’s crucial that all Mexican trucks and drivers be inspected, for the sake of American safety and because it was promised under the plan.
The investigation was conducted precisely to determine if all participants are complying with the program’s laws and regulations and to establish if the Department of Transportation has established sufficient mechanisms to decide if it’s adversely affecting motor carrier safety.
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