Safety Concerns Resolved: NAFTA Proposal Gets Green Light

December 3, 2001

The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) is pleased that the compromise legislation that would allow Mexican trucks into the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) addresses the critical safety concerns voiced by insurers over the past five years.

“Our primary concern has always been that an adequate number of safety inspectors be trained and in place at borders to insure the safety of Americans on our highways,” said NAII Commercial Lines Director David Golden. “Currently the number of inspectors does not meet the requirements of the Department of Transportation (DOT) released over three years ago, based on traffic levels at that time. There has been a significant increase in the number of border truck crossings since then. We are pleased that this legislation specifically requires a study to determine just how many inspectors are actually needed to do the job. The border will open in phases as staff and facilities are put in place and that process will help to ensure that trucks and drivers entering the United States meet U.S. safety standards.”

Some of the details of the agreement hammered out in a Congressional Conference Committee yesterday include:

Borders begin opening in mid-May, 2002, if DOT’s Inspector General certifies all safety requirements are met;

Follow-up Inspector General reports at regular intervals will confirm that the safety requirements of this compromise are being met;

Weigh-in motion devices for trucks must be in place at top five border entry points with an additional five added within one year. A study must be completed on the need for more weigh-in equipment;

Mexican carriers can be granted conditional operating authority, but must be subject to a safety audit. Full compliance reviews would be required within 18 months. Fifty percent to of these safety reviews are to be done in Mexico at the motor carriers’ place of business;

Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) stickers and vehicles would be inspected at the place of business or as they cross the border

Authorities will check the license of every (100 percent) driver hauling hazardous material and 50 percent of all other drivers.

“These safety directives, including the numbers of inspectors, weigh-in capabilities and thorough checks of cargo and the drivers hauling that cargo will provide the steps needed to protect the public,” Golden said.

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