U.S. Truckers Lose Mexican Cross-Border Delivery Appeal

U.S. trucker groups lost an appeals court challenge to a federal pilot program allowing Mexican truck drivers to cross the border and deliver goods in the U.S.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington today rejected an argument by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association that Mexican commercial drivers’ licenses are invalid in the U.S.

“We think the more sensible conclusion is that Congress decided that Mexico-domiciled truckers with Mexican commercial drivers’ licenses could drive on U.S. roads,” U.S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel.

The court also dismissed claims by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters that medical standards for Mexican truck drivers aren’t up to snuff and that the pilot program is unlawful because not all Mexican vehicles are required to display a decal certifying that they comply with U.S. safety standards.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had determined that the Mexican medical standards “would provide a level of safety at least equivalent to the American standards taken as a whole,” Kavanaugh wrote.

The requirement to display the safety sticker applies to items imported into the U.S., not the trucks carrying them, according to the opinion.

‘Regulatory Noose’

“This whole program is a slap in the face to U.S. drivers that go to great lengths to comply with an ever-tightening regulatory noose,” Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the owner-operators association, said in an e-mailed statement. “If safety were truly a priority, standards would be held high on both sides of the border.”

Norita Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Grain Valley, Missouri-based group, said a decision about whether to appeal hadn’t been made.

Galen Munroe, a spokesman for the Teamsters, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The pilot program grew out of negotiations between President Barack Obama and then-President Felipe Calderon of Mexico that ended with an agreement signed in July 2011.

The cases are International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. U.S. Department of Transportation, 11-01444, and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Inc. v. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 11-01251, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Zajac in Washington at azajac@bloomberg.net; Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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