FMCSA's Oversight of Mexican Carriers Criticized by Watchdog

FMCSA’s Oversight of Mexican Carriers Criticized by Watchdog

The Motor Carrier Safety Administration is lenient with Mexican trucking companies that transport freight to and from the US, according to a government watchdog.

The IG Office of the U.S. Department of Transportation released a report on Friday. It stated that the result was due to how FMCSA evaluated Mexican companies. These companies wanted to operate outside the U.S.-Mexico cross-border business zones.

The report says the FMCSA followed regulations and procedures when authorizing and monitoring cross-border carriers in the US.

Oversight of Mexican Carriers Needs Improvement

The Agency has an adequate tracking system in place to determine when carriers are due for a review, ensuring their compliance with these regulations.

The FMCSA did not always conduct timely compliance reviews of carriers operating under provisional authority. This hinders FMCSA’s ability to fully assess and mitigate carrier safety risks, which increases the risk of unsafe carriers operating on the Nation’s roadways.

The study says that FMCSA has 18 months from the time it gives a carrier a temporary operating license to check the carrier’s activities in Mexico for compliance. The IG found that of the 83 Mexican carriers that had been given a long-haul working license as of January 1, 64% had not been checked for compliance within the 18-month time limit.

Compliance Reviews of Cross-Border Carriers Delayed

Of those, 38 had been working with only temporary permission for an average of over 40 months, and the oldest had been doing so for almost seven years, without ever being checked for compliance.

According to the IG’s report, it was stated that FMCSA had not conducted a compliance review of a cross-border carrier since January 2020. The Agency possesses a sufficient tracking system for determining the timing of carriers’ compliance reviews. An FMCSA official stated that the Agency did not meet the timeliness requirement due to reasons such as the COVID-19 pandemic and carriers lack of sufficient roadside inspection data.

Mexican Carriers Have Good Safety Record Compared to U.S. Carriers

The study said that the FMCSA found that the safety record of Mexican carriers “is as good as or better than that of U.S. carriers,” which eased some of the worries.

In fiscal year 2022, the rate of vehicles out of service for long-haul carriers in Mexico was less than 15%, while the rate for U.S. carriers was more than 22%. The IG said that this was true. In FY22, less than 1% of Mexican companies’ drivers were out of service, while more than 7% of American companies’ drivers were out of service.

IG Recommends Improvements to FMCSA’s Regulation of Mexican Long-Haul Trucking Businesses

The IG didn’t like how the FMCSA regulated long-haul trucking businesses in Mexico and gave three ideas to the head of the agency.

  • Change FMCSA’s policy so that it says why compliance checks can’t be done for more than 18 months. If a review is delayed, it is important to figure out how long a carrier should be able to keep running under temporary authorization without a compliance review. It is also important to write down the decision to delay a review.
  • Check to see if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations need to be changed to fit the new review guidelines for compliance.
  • Make a plan for how to schedule evaluations of compliance for future temporary carriers and a plan for how to finish reviews for those who have been operating for more than 18 months without full authorization.

FMCSA Administrator Agrees to Improve Oversight of Mexican Carriers

Administrator of the FMCSA, Robin Hutcheson, agreed that the agency had already tried to improve control and that the ideas were good. 

These steps include changing the way compliance checks are given. “to give more time between the assigned date and the end of the 18-month period,” Hutcheson wrote, “to prevent people from being late because of scheduling conflicts and other problems.” 

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