NAII hails Mineta for steps taken before US-Mexican border opens
Aug 1, 2002 12:00 PM
The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) has applauded United States Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and the Department of Transportation (DOT) for progress in meeting congressionally mandated safety requirements before opening the US-Mexican border.
Earlier this year, the Bush administration indicated the borders could be opened up by mid-summer. However, recent testimony suggests the date for border openings could be pushed back to autumn.
Mineta testified before the Senate Transportation Committee on Appropriations and Surface Transportation and the Merchant Marine Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation. He outlined the readiness of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to hire border inspection personnel. Adequate staffing was one of 22 requirements mandated by Congress before opening travel throughout the United Sates to Mexican motor carriers under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
According to David Golden, NAII director of commercial lines, Mineta testified that to date, 144 individuals were hired to perform border inspector functions. Another 67 individuals are employed as safety auditors, though they require training before they can report for duty.
Mexican carriers are required to demonstrate that they have met US drug and alcohol testing requirements. They also must comply with requirements regarding US hours of service, have valid insurance with an insurer licensed in at least one state, and have adequate vehicle safety maintenance and driver records.
“In addition, a central database being built by Mexico that will allow American insurers to access motor vehicle records is completed and now being populated with driver information,” Golden said.
Hazardous materials driver requirements under the USA Patriot Act also must be studied carefully, according to Golden. He expressed assurance that the US Customs Service will work with FMCSA inspectors to ensure safety and security.
To help address the problem of increasing traffic volume, border infrastructure grants were given to four southern states for improvements at border inspection stations.
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