International Trucking Not Without Problems

Jim McCormack

When manufacturing plants began moving south of the border, truckers naturally had to follow.  However, this has not come without problems and, today, US truck drivers are finding their Mexican counterparts are running into much more trouble than they are.  This huge business, equating to $31.4 billion annually, is gaining momentum at a steady rate of 14.3% , which opens  many new opportunities for US drivers.



One of the major problems is that different regulations exist in the US compared to Mexico.  Therefore, when truck drivers cross into the US they must be inspected to ensure they meet the standards now required by governmental regulations.  As a result, during 2011 there were 625 drivers put out-of-service due to the millions of violations found and this was just in El Paso.  It was pointed out, however, that not all trucks fail and that equipment driven by Mexican truckers is equivalent to, or better than, those by many truckers in the US.

Problems with trucks crossing the Mexican border varied widely and included deflated tires, bad brakes, axle problems, defective lights, and many other problems.  Perhaps the biggest problem was the fact that few trucks were able to meet the new stringent

requirements related to lower emission and better fueleconomy outlined by US authorities.  This has proved to be a detriment to many Mexican drivers with equipment not designed with this need in mind.

According to US inspector, Captain Jessie Mendez, “We consider any safety violation to be serious.  Many of the trucks are fixed on-site or are towed away for repair.”  What this means for US drivers is that they now have the opportunity to take over these routes, which pays well and is highly desired by many drivers that would like to see a new part of the world.

Although international travel also requires US Customs and Border Protection inspections, many US and Mexican drivers feel this is a small price to pay for what they get in return.  Mendez said he expects the volume of trucks to increase once the government begins the new long-haul, cross-border trucking program. It’s important, however, that drivers remain aware that in addition to federal regulations, they must also meet individual state safety standards, which are often more rigorous than governmental mandates.

Although cross-border trucks are inspected by federal officers, the federal regulations do not mirror the state’s safety standards, which are often more rigorous for some aspects of truck safety. Texas has the authority to sideline trucks that do not comply with its safety standards. Today, US truck safety inspection staff is working hard with their Mexican counterparts to resolve international border crossing issues that have arisen.  For those interested in finding new opportunities to take on more loads, this is definitely an option that should be explored.