Mexican Trucks Not Ready To Roll


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The news that Mexican trucks will be rolling down U.S. highways again, after a 25-year moratorium, draws mixed reactions. Business, trade groups and proponents of NAFTA expansion applaud the move, while some members of Congress, safety advocates, environmentalists and labor leaders express opposition.

Mexico's truck fleet, critics say, is poorly maintained and therefore dangerous to other motorists. But the most compelling reason they should not yet return to U.S. highways is that the U.S. trucking industry and the agencies that oversee it have such worrisome inadequacies of their own. The first order of business should be to get their respective houses in order.

Truckers from each country are restricted to a 25-mile commercial zone on the other side of the border. Under a one-year pilot program announced last month, 100 Mexican trucking companies, overseen by U.S. inspectors, will be able to send their vehicles from Mexico throughout the United States and back, and 100 U.S. companies will be able to operate in Mexico. No hazardous material shipments will be permitted. Teams of U.S. inspectors already are in Mexico inspecting trucking firms. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters promised that safety would be the program's "top priority."


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