February 23, 2007 8:30 AM, EST

DOT to Begin Audits of Mexican Trucking Companies

First Step in New Program to Allow Mexican Carriers Into the U.S.
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Inspectors from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will travel to Mexico to conduct safety audits on trucking companies interested in hauling cargo to and from the United States, the Department of Transportation said late Thursday.The inspections are part of a new program that will allow Mexican carriers to operate within the U.S. beyond the narrow commercial zone to which they are currently restricted, DOT said in a statement.As part of the inspections, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said FMCSA auditors will verify that Mexican drivers have a valid commercial driver’s license, a current medical certificate, and can comply with U.S. hours-of-service rules. Inspection teams will also review driving histories for each driver that a Mexican carrier plans to send into the U.S. and look for proof that such carriers are insured by a U.S.-licensed firm. DOT had previously indicated that efforts to allow Mexican truckers unfettered access to U.S. highways had stalled.During her confirmation hearing in September, Peters said there were “no immediate plans” to open the border to Mexican truck traffic.Likewise, FMCSA Administrator John Hill in October told participants in a online chat that there were no immediate plans to move forward on Mexican trucks.