March 15, 2002
Implementing NAFTA DOT Sets Safety
Requirements For Mexican Trucks, Buses in United States
The United States today took another step toward safe implementation of the
southern border truck and bus crossing provisions of the North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The U.S. Department of Transportation established
tough safety requirements for Mexican motor carriers operating to and from
the United States and required that all motor carrier safety inspectors,
auditors, and investigators be certified.
"President Bush and I are committed to extending the benefits of free trade
throughout North America while ensuring that a strict and rigorous safety
regime is established and enforced," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y.
Mineta said. "The steps taken today will help ensure that all trucks, buses
and drivers entering the United States from Mexico meet U.S. safety
standards and operate safely on U.S. roads when we implement the truck and
bus provisions of NAFTA."
With today's regulatory action, Mexican carriers applying to operate
anywhere in the United States will be required to have a distinctive USDOT
number, have their vehicles pass a safety inspection, and undergo
intensified safety monitoring during an 18-month provisional period, and
provide supplemental safety certifications as part of the application
process. Mexican commercial vehicles will be permitted to enter the United
States only at commercial border crossings and only when a certified motor
carrier safety inspector is on duty.
The regulations also will require Mexican carriers operating in the United
States to have a drug and alcohol-testing program, a system of compliance
with U.S. federal hours-of-service requirements, adequate data and safety
management systems, and valid insurance with a U.S. registered insurance
company. The carrier's ability to meet these requirements will be verified
by a safety audit conducted by qualified U.S. inspectors prior to receiving
provisional authority to operate to and from the U.S.
At least half of these safety audits, which are to be conducted by qualified
inspectors, must take place in Mexico. In addition to safety audits, all
Mexican carriers granted provisional operating authority will undergo full
safety compliance reviews during the 18-month provisional period.
FMCSA intends to provide Mexican carriers educational and technical
assistance before the border opens and as they apply for operating
The rules announced today include requirements that meet terms in the
Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, signed into
law by President Bush on Dec. 18, 2001. They comprise a final rule, two
interim final rules and two proposed rules by the Department's Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA plans to publish similar rules
later this year for all new entrant carriers who seek motor carrier
authority to operate in the United States.
In companion documents, the Department's National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration proposed rules and procedures that manufacturers would be
required to follow to retrofit vehicles with certification labels,
complementing FMCSA's proposal that all trucks and buses operating in the
United States carry labels certifying that they meet U.S. federal motor
vehicle safety standards at the time of manufacture.
Today's rulemakings are among the actions that the U.S. Department of
Transportation is taking to prepare for opening the border for Mexican truck
and bus operations, which is expected by mid-year.
Additional information about the five FMCSA regulatory actions posted at the
Federal Register can be accessed at: www.fmcsa.dot.gov/. NHTSA's proposals
are on the Internet at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ and a fact sheet is at
The regulatory documents are in the USDOT docket (Docket Numbers
FMCSA-98-3297, FMCSA-98-3298, FMCSA-98-3299, FMCSA-2001-11060,
FMCSA-01-10886, NHTSA-02-11592, NHTSA-02-11593, and NHTSA-02-11594). To be
considered, written comments on the interim rulemakings and proposals should
be sent to the USDOT docket facility before the date indicated in each
document. Comments should be sent to the attention of the specific document
number, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC. The rules and
comments filed in each rulemaking are on the Internet and can be viewed
there by searching for the docket number at http://dms.dot.gov/. Comments
also may be submitted electronically at this site.