Status Report on NAFTA Cross-Border Trucking Demonstration Project
On February 6, 2009, we issued a status report on the NAFTA Cross–Border Trucking Demonstration Project, in keeping with legislation enacted in May 2007. By law, we are required to issue a final report 60 days after the conclusion of the project, which was initiated on September 6, 2007. This report describes the status of the project at the conclusion of the first year. It also responds to a question for the record from our March 2008 testimony before the Senate on the withdrawal of Trinity Industries de Mexico from the project. Our report found that after the first year, FMCSA has not demonstrated that the number of Mexican carriers participating in the demonstration project is adequate to yield statistically valid results, and that in some respects, the participants are not representative of all applicants for long–haul authority in terms of some business characteristics and out–of–service rates. The panel that the Department established to provide an independent evaluation of the demonstration project completed its report on the first year of the demonstration project but will not continue in that capacity during the remainder of the project. FMCSA will continue to monitor the participants and conduct an internal evaluation of any effects of the project on motor carrier safety in the United States. While FMCSA implemented Federal and state monitoring and enforcement mechanisms and checks are occurring at the border, a key quality control measure designed to provide assurance that all trucks are checked is not adequate because it relies on incomplete data. Finally, Trinity Industries de Mexico voluntarily withdrew from the project to avoid business disruptions, and its prior safety history showed that out–of–service rates were lower that those of United States carriers. We recommended that FMCSA demonstrate that the project meets congressional requirements to yield statistically valid results by (a) determining the minimum number of Mexican carriers that must participate, (b) developing a plan to attain a sufficient number of carriers if they have not met this threshold, and (c) providing this information to the OIG and appropriate congressional committees. We also recommended that FMCSA develop and implement a new quality control plan to provide assurance that every Mexican truck is checked upon every entry to the United States, and that FMCSA conduct a cost/benefit analysis to determine if renewing GPS services will provide benefits that outweigh the costs.