Independent American truckers are not happy about Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s announcement Friday that included details of a proposed, phased long-haul, cross-border trucking program between the United States and Mexico.
“This is the wrong plan at the wrong time for numerous reasons,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “It’s irresponsible and reckless. The Administration must reconsider or Congress must step in again to force them to do the right thing.”
The majority of trucking companies based in the U.S. are small businesses, according to an OOIDA news release. As many as 93 percent of all motor carriers have fewer than 20 trucks in their fleets and 78 percent of motor carriers have fleets of six or fewer trucks. Owner-operator fleets averaging slightly more than one truck represent nearly half the total number of heavy-duty commercial trucks operated in the U.S.
Those trucking companies and truck drivers must contend with ever-increasing safety, homeland security and environmental regulations that dramatically affect their costs of operation as well as their ability to make a living at their chosen profession. Mexico does not have an even remotely equivalent regulatory regime for its trucking industry and drivers.
“The onus is on Mexico to raise the safety, security and environmental standards for their trucking industry,” Spencer said. “We should not allow ourselves to be harassed or blackmailed into lowering ours.”
Mexico first imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports close to two years ago. OOIDA contends the legality of the original tariffs should have been challenged.
“Succumbing to Mexico’s bullying provides a handy attack plan for them and other governments in future trade disputes,” Spencer noted.
Despite the tariffs, based on numbers released by DOT in March 2011, truck-based trade with Mexico surged by 27.6 percent last year to a total of $320.3 billion, and the bulk of this increase was from U.S. goods going to Mexico.
“They need to stop placating Mexico’s government and start fighting for the Americans they are supposed to represent,” said Spencer. “If they follow through with this, the Administration will be jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of Americans.”
Independent truckers and others who want to comment on the proposed plan have 30 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register to submit comments about the plan.
Today’s announcement comes three months after truckers reacted to DOT’s Mexican trucking proposal, almost a year after I asked reader the question, Will Mexican Truck Drivers With Criminal Records Soon Be Driving on U.S. Highways? and more than a year after I reported news about an explosives theft qualifying as a “near-miss” for USA.
More to come on this one.
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