D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Refuses Rehearing
(WASHINGTON) – The Teamsters today questioned the safety of Mexican trucks after a federal court refused to rehear the union’s challenge to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s cross-border truck pilot program.
The Teamsters in June had asked for a rehearing on the decision in May by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The appeals panel upheld the legality of the program.
The Teamsters argued a rehearing is necessary “because the panel’s dismissal of Petitioners’ claims … conflicts with decisions of this Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.” The court on Friday issued an amended decision that used an alternative basis for its ruling that Mexico-domiciled trucks do not have to comply with certain federal safety certification requirements. Nothing in the amended decision suggests Mexican trucks are safe.
The Teamsters will consider their legal options and continue to monitor the progress of DOT’s cross-border trucking program. In May, the Teamsters joined highway safety advocates in expressing concern about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) oversight of the Mexican trucks allowed to travel freely on U.S. highways. Those concerns included:
- Two Mexican carriers created a new affiliate to disguise an abysmal safety record; that was not disclose to FMCSA, but the agency nevertheless allowed the affiliate to participate in the pilot program.
- FMCSA allowed two Mexican carriers to continue in the pilot program even though they received a less-than-satisfactory rating in their safety compliance review.
- FMCSA promised two years ago that it would conduct a peer review to evaluate the design of the pilot program. It has yet to do so.
The Teamsters question whether there are enough carriers in the pilot program to reach a reliable conclusion about the likely impact of Mexican trucks on U.S. highway safety. According to DOT’s inspector general in September of last year, FMCSA estimated that it needed at least 46 carriers to be inspected 4,100 times within 3 years to provide a statistically valid analysis. The inspector general’s report was written when only four carriers had been granted long-haul operating authority and only 52 inspections had been performed beyond the commercial zone.
With a little over a year to go, the three-year pilot program now has only 12 carriers with 44 trucks. More carriers have dropped out or were dismissed from the program – a total of 13 – than are currently participating.