The Department of Transportation recently announced that soon trucking companies in Mexico will be able to seek authority to conduct cross-border and long-haul operations in the United States. Many assumed that truck drivers from Mexico would be allowed into the country after 1995 as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but concerns about safety have limited operations for Mexican carriers in this country. Will the move create more truck accidents in Miami and other communities or have no impact on safety?
Opposition to the New Plan
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the Teamsters, and other groups oppose the move, saying that safety concerns remain. There are also concerns that allowing the companies into the United States could hurt the domestic job market.
So far, 13 truck carriers from Mexico have been granted certificates to operate in the United States. All the trucking companies had to take part in a Congress-mandated pilot program to show good adherence to safety standards. Teamsters and other groups have argued that the pilot project did not include enough time or enough trucks to truly determine whether all trucks from across the border would be safe. They claim that there is simply too little data about the truck carriers and their fleets.
Will it be Safe?
The main question, of course, is how the new decision will affect the safety of streets in Miami and other cities. The pilot program suggests that the drivers and truck carriers are safe, and of course anyone driving in the United States has to abide by U.S. rules of the road and trucking rules. There are already truckers from Canada on the roads of the United States and there have been no considerable stated concerns about their safety. Will this new influx of truckers be any different?
The move may help to offset some of the concerns about driver shortages in the long run. Right now, there is a shortage of truck drivers, and the situation may get worse before it gets better. Allowing truckers from another country to travel across the United States could help reduce some of the pressure on domestic truckers, which could potentially prevent fatigued driving and stress. Whether this happens remains to be seen.
As with any truckers who do not get their licenses in the country, there are concerns about language skills and the ability to read street signs and road signs. There are also concerns about the differences between commercial licenses in the United States and Mexico. In Florida and the rest of the country, truck drivers must pass strict road tests and written tests and must be willing to abide by federal rules. They must also submit to medical tests to ensure that they are physically fit to drive. The pilot project, according to proponents, ensures that truck drivers authorized to drive in the United States meet the requirements for drivers, even if they get their credentials somewhere else. Critics, however, note that other countries have different standards for their drivers – standards that could affect safety.
Only time will tell whether the new decision will result in more truck accidents or whether it will not affect accident rates at all. If you are injured in a truck accident involving any commercial driver, keep in mind that you do have rights. If you have been injured, do not hesitate to contact Flaxman Law Group for a free case evaluation so that you can talk about your situation with a member of our legal team. Flaxman Law Group is a full service law firm with offices in Miami, Homestead, and Hollywood.