On April 14, 2010, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) headed a bi-partisan group of seventy eight Members of Congress who sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk, asking them to renegotiate the section of the North American Free Trade Agreement that deals with the permitting of access to U.S. roadways by Mexican trucks.
In his letter DeFazio noted, “Mexico has no meaningful system for commercial driver’s licenses, drug testing or hours of service. This is a trade agreement that threatens the safety of the American public.”
Congress has in the past repeatedly rejected proposed cross-border programs due to what DeFazio described in his letter as, “Mexico’s less stringent regulations on hours-of-service, vehicle safety, and driver training and licensing.” Cross-border programs that allow Mexican trucks free access to America’s roadways pose “a threat to the traveling American public,” DeFazio’s letter went on to state.
DeFazio’s letter comes at a crucial moment. As the Obama Administration forms its approach to this issue and the Mexican government seeks to pressure the U.S. into moving forward with a cross-border trucking program, the time is now for DeFazio and his colleagues to be heard.
From my years of experience working with truck accident victims and their families, I know that we face enormous challenges in this country when it comes to trucking safety. We do not yet effectively enforce our existing laws and regulations when it comes to hours-of-service, equipment maintenance, driver training and other areas of concern. We cannot afford an influx of trucks and drivers on our roadways whose safety standards fail to meet our own.