FMCSA Adequately Monitored Its NAFTA Cross-Border Trucking Pilot Program but Lacked a Representative Sample To Project Overall Safety Performance
Under the 1992 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the United States and Mexico agreed to long-haul cross-border transportation of cargo and passengers between the two countries. However, before the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) could process Mexico-domiciled motor carrier applications to operate beyond United States commercial zones, FMCSA had to meet certain requirements and conduct a pilot program for granting long-haul authority to Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to evaluate the potential impact on safety. FMCSA initiated the pilot program on October 14, 2011, and ended the program on October 10, 2014.
Our review determined that FMCSA established sufficient monitoring and enforcement activities for the pilot program to comply with the 34 distinct requirements set forth in Section 350(a) of the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriation Act. FMCSA also took reasonable actions to implement the nine recommendations we made in our initial and interim pilot program audits for improving its monitoring and enforcement activities to ensure that pilot program participants comply with safety laws and regulations. In addition, FMCSA established a sufficient mechanism—through an internal analysis of carrier safety data—to determine whether the pilot program had adverse effects on motor carrier safety. The Agency concluded, and we confirmed, that pilot program participant carriers, as well as Mexico-domiciled and Mexican-owned carriers with existing authority to operate in the United States, performed no worse than U.S. and Canadian motor carriers. However, the 15 carriers that participated in the pilot program was insufficient to project safety performance to the universe of Mexico-domiciled carriers that may qualify for long-haul operating authority in the future.
Because the pilot program has ended, we are not making recommendations to improve FMCSA’s oversight of the pilot program.