On The Subject of Safety… | The Truth About Mexico

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On The Subject of Safety…

A post by "Ellen Fields" | http://www.yucatanliving.com

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Mexico Cross Border TruckingWhile we’re on the subject of safety, let’s talk about trucking. Yes, trucking… as in those big 18 wheelers, those beautiful horrible monsters of the highway. According to NAFTA, there was supposed to be free-wheeling between Mexico and the United States for ten years already. So why isn’t this happening? If you operate from your gut feeling about this, from what you “know” because you’ve been hearing and reading about it all your life, you’re probably thinking “Well, of course. We have such stringent safety laws in the United States. We can’t allow Mexican trucks in the U.S. because they don’t live up to our standards.”

According to MexicoTrucker.com, you would be so very wrong.

Apparently the FY09 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that will be funding our government through September 2009, and was admittedly full of earmarks and pork (the last one, we hope!), carried with it a hidden poison pill for relations between Mexico and the United States. The bill pulled the funding for the Mexican Cross Border Demonstration Program, ending a very successful 18 month program. A program that saw no accidents, no violations and increased profitability for both the US and Mexican trucking companies that participated.

And, as a recent Department of Transportation report warned, pulling the funding ‘will likely result in retaliation from Mexico’.

After reading up on the issue, our only reaction was “Who could blame them?”. Since NAFTA was approved, powers that be within the United States have been finding every reason in the world to block the provision that allows truckers to pass over the border between Mexico and the United States to deliver the goods “freed up” by the NAFTA accord. Mexico has patiently met every objection, jumped through every hoop and continued to play the game even when the United States kept moving the goalposts.

But this time, Mexico said Ya basta! (loose translation: Enough already!)

Mexico will be imposing tariffs of 10% to 20% on many of the goods shipped into Mexico in retaliation. At first we thought that these tariffs would mean that we are going to be paying more for certain goods that we like that are shipped here from the United States. Things like Christmas trees, dates, almonds, pears, cherries, peanuts, onions, juices, soups, mineral water, wine, artists supplies, aftershave, plasticware, blank books, books, yarn, carpets, glassware… the list goes on. The list mostly consists of things that can be purchased from other countries, especially India and China, both trading partners of Mexico.

Mexico is the third largest trading partner of the United States, by the way, behind China and Canada.

So what is this going to mean, besides a higher price for dental floss? It’s going to mean lower sales for companies in the United States… companies already hurting from the economic situation we all find ourselves in today.

There are, of course, many sides to this issue. There is a lot of history here, too. We encourage you to read up on the subject on MexicoTrucker.com, whose writer, Porter Corn, is thoroughly educated and informed on this subject matter.

One thing we have taken away from our research and reading on this subject that we would like you to also understand. Remember that Mexican Cross Border Demonstration Program? The Mexican participants were every bit as safety conscious and had just as good a record as their American counterparts. And statistics prove that this is not an exception. Since 1982 when over 350 Mexican carriers were ‘grandfathered’ into an agreement that allowed them to operate in the United States, Mexican carriers have had a better safety record than American carriers.

So you have to ask, “Who is really being served here?”. We encourage you to read the following articles to find your own answers to that question.

Congress Doesn’t Respect NAFTA

Mexican Trucking Cross Border Program Ends, For Now

Trade Wars Are Stupid…

The List of Items with Retaliatory Tariffs (downloadable PDF)

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13 Comments For This Post

  1. Nancy Says:

    Thank you so much for this article. Very informative – and upsetting.

  2. Hans Says:

    Finaly Mexico is doing what Canada should have done years ago with the soft wood agreement. It is time the Usa starts playing by the rules.

  3. Henry McDonald Says:

    Bush authorized a “pilot program” for Mexican truckers that lasted 18 months until it was recently suspended. Does anyone know the accident statistics that came out of that test period?

  4. workinggringos Says:

    According to http://www.mexicotrucker.com:

    “The program revealed in the 18 months the program has been in operation, there have been ZERO accidents, and ZERO major safety violations. With one exception, all participants operated in complete compliance with our rules and regs.”

    (http://mexicotrucker.com/mexican-cross-border-program-likely-to-end-for-now)

  5. workinggringos Says:

    And, by the way, there are bills in the works now to reinstate the program:

    http://mexicotrucker.com/hr-1611-bill-introduced-in-congress-to-amend-fy09-omnibus-appropriations-bill

  6. Bernard Says:

    Anyone who has ridden first class inter-city buses in Mexico knows the high standards that are applied internally in the Mexican transportation industry when competition is intense. There is no reason in the world to deny Mexican truckers access to US markets except to prevent competition with US truckers, one of the last bastions of high income opportunities for workers with skills that can be acquired in only a few months. It is much easier to stiff the Mexicans than to improve the US education system so that US citizens no longer need to take what ought to be low-wage jobs. I hate the protectionism, but the US started it, violating the trade agreement with Mexico (NAFTA).

  7. Jay Says:

    I have lived, worked and driven in Mexico for the past 5 years. Everyone here knows that the truck drivers are some of the worst in the world. In theory they are meant to pass a driving test but the vast majority do not. This is Mexico – the drivers prefer to just pay off the examiner rather than take the test and the examiner will deliberately fail drivers who reach the expected standard but refuse to pay the bribe. This is not minor corruption that happens everywhere – it’s an integral part of the system. The result is that in most cases drivers do not have training and have not reached the necessary standard to pass the test. Are there any good truck drivers in Mexico? Sure. But the vast majority are poorly trained and used to driving in conditions where they can pay their way out of trouble if accidents happen.

    Do US and Canadian truck drivers have the right to drive into Mexico? Just wondering because this is something that is never mentioned.

  8. Porter Corn Says:

    Bernard, I take exception to your comment about skills that can be learned in a few months. I’ve been in the business for 35 years now and you never quit learning. Those that do, that know it all in a few months, are the ones likely to kill or be killed on the road.

    Jay> Who is the “Everyone” as in “everyone here knows”! I’ve been living and driving in Mexico for more than 15 years and the truckers in Mexico could teach US truckers a thing or two about safety and skill.

    Go and try to obtain a Licencia Federal de Conductor by bribery or other nefarious methods. One of two things will happen. You will be arrested for attempted bribery or else you’ll be sold a worthless piece of paper with no value and which will get you arrested if you ever try to present it for official purposes.

    You might be able to scam the examiner for a regular operators license in Mexico, but not a Federal Commercial license.

    If a Mexican driver holds a Federal License, he has passed 40 hours of mandatory training, a background check, a skills test, both written and behind the wheel. He has been examined by government doctors for medical certification and by government psychologists as part of the mandated process to obtain the Federal License. He will have been tested for drugs and alcohol in a government testing center.

    Do US and Canadian drivers have the right to drive in Mexico? US drivers did until Congress stopped the program. US drivers lost their right at that time.

    Canadians drivers have the right to drive in Mexico because Canada offers Mexico access to Canadian highways without restriction. And interestingly enough, with the Teamsters and others trying to keep these 100 Mexican trucks off of American roads, International conventions permit Mexican trucks to transit the US without restrictions when they have a Canadian destination.

  9. Ellen Fields Says:

    Thanks for your information and insight into this issue, Porter.

  10. Mexicotrucker Says:

    Ellen, Not a problem, but I would appreciate a reciprocal link in the sidebar to my site, since I’ve had one for this site since I became aware of it.

  11. TXfemmom Says:

    Look, all I know is that as a member of MADD, here in the United States and particularly in Texas, we have real, excellent figures on the fact that Mexicans living in the Unite States illegally are three times as likely to drive DRUNK.

    As for the issue of Mexican vehicles, we have had three rather spectacular and multiple fatality accidents involving Mexican-based bus lines with Mexican drivers here in the United States of late and they all had bad safety records, forged safety records, buses which had been registered illegally, and no insurance. They would get closed down, go down the street, re-register the things under a different name, as in using their mother’s maiden name this time, and set right back up in business.

    Do we have shady things here in the U. S….of course. However, I also know that one group spoke with many of the truckers who were in line to drive here in the United States and they could not tell them what street and road signs said. American truckers who are going to drive in Mexico, which I understand is declining at a tremendous rate because of the crime and such, should have to understand enough Spanish to understand the signs, etc. and vice versa.

  12. Prof.Gringo Says:

    I have personally know Mexicans that bragged that their Mexican “CDL’s” were obtained by bribes. Personal DL’s are isssued without any kind of exam or test in both DF and Mexico State. Why? Because the system is so corrupt people couldn’t get a license without paying a bribe.

    Anybody that has driven in Mexico knows how terrible the drivers are. No respect for the law, other drivers or pedestrians. The commercial drivers are the worse. Many buses and trucks have been in horific crashes that would lead to investigations and changes to the law in the US. But in Mexico, nothing much changes. The same unqualified drivers operate unsafe equipment over the highways where law enforcement is lax or non-existant.

    Also, the comment about Canada and Mexico doesn’t make any sense. Commercial drivers would have to pass though the US anyways.

    Mexico is so corrupt that a person can pay for a license to practice law or even fly commercial aircraft. Yeah, that’s right. You can pay $12,000 USD and get a license to fly 737’s in Mexico. I know the school/guy that does that.

    Letting Mexican trucks into the US was one of the worse provisions of NAFTA. US transportation needs protection. US Airlines, Railways, and the Maritime industry all receive some forms of federal aid and protection. Trucking needs the same.

    To be a pilot or a maritime crew member in Mexico is reserved for Mexicans by birth. Maybe it’s time the US became more like Mexico and reserved many of OUR jobs for AMERICANS. Mexican trucks should never have been allowed into the US. When Mexico finally opens up PEMEX and allows foreign investment, then we can do the same for Mexico.

  13. mexicomystic Says:

    Seems to me that just “buying a license” to fly and not knowing how to fly is a good way to get yourself killed.
    As for a car…I know plenty of people in Mexico and the U.S. who have learned how to drive a car without a license who are excellent drivers. Getting a drivers “license” is just a means of the Government to squeeze more money out of the people and to disenfranchise the poor.
    Txfemmom is obviously bigoted against Mexicans… I`m against Drunk driving, everyone has to live up to responsibilties but why point your finger at a certain etnic group? Then should I say black football players are all drunks and dangerous? There are nuts in all the world… if you cant do the time dont do the crime.

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