Saturday, July 14, 2007

Truckers say DOT deserves failing grade on safety and security of highways

By OOIDA - June 20, 2007
(Grain Valley, MO) – According to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the Department of Transportation gets an “F” for its performance when it comes to the safety and security of our nation’s highways. The Association stood alongside safety advocate groups at a press conference in Washington, D.C. today as they issued a “report card” and research study detailing how the Bush administration is defying Congress with the U.S. DOT’s attempt to open the border to trucks from Mexico.

The OOIDA believes the U.S. Department of Transportation has failed to comply with the requirements outlined and signed into law regarding the Mexico cross border program, disregarding the safety and security of U.S. highways. The Association has protested against the pilot program for several months. (Call to Action – Cross Border Program)

“Secretary Peters claims truckers from Mexico will be subject to the same regulations as U.S. drivers, yet she has never said how this will be done,” states OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “These regulations don’t exist in Mexico. Enforcement of stringent hours of service regulations are meaningless if a Mexican driver has been awake for a week straight when he reaches the U.S. border,” he adds.

Safety and security as a priority was indeed recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives last month when it passed the Safe American Roads Act. This legislation laid out specific safety and security measures that must be in place before the border could open. It passed by an overwhelming 411-3 margin.

“However, apparently the Bush DOT chose to thumb its nose at the Congress and at the will of the American people by pursuing its global economic agenda,” added Spencer.

A new poll by the Lake Research Partners research firm reveals strong opinions on the idea of allowing trucks from Mexico to travel beyond the current commercial zones, extending 20 to 30 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border. One thousand adult, American citizens were polled and it was found that a majority (56 percent) believes the Bush administration’s plan to allow Mexico-domiciled trucks to travel throughout the United States is dangerous.

The “report card” announced at the conference also pointed out legal provisions that the FMCSA has not complied with, including: failure to provide sufficient opportunity for public notice and comments; failure to provide the public with information about the pilot project; failure to comply with the requirements of §350 of the FY2002 DOT Appropriations Act on the safety of cross-border trucking; failure to comply with requirements of the pilot program law to test innovative approaches and alternative regulations under 49 USC §31315(c); failure of FMCSA to keep its promise to check every truck every time for compliance; and failure to establish criteria that are subject to monitoring during the pilot program.

“How can this administration possibly rationalize asking thousands of young men and women in uniform to make the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s safety and security thousands of miles from home --- and at the same time make our southern border even more porous than it already is?” asks Spencer.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is the national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Mo. area. The Association currently has more than 153,000 members from all 50 states and Canada.

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