Letter To U.S. Dept. Of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters
Senator Mark Pryor today sent a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters expressing his concerns about the agency's plans to implement a 12-month pilot project to allow Mexican trucks to operate beyond their current limits. He reminded the Secretary of his continued interest in ensuring that foreign truckers comply with all safety, insurance, and emission standards as well as fees and taxes currently required for domestic trucks, drivers and trucking companies. The full text of Pryor's letter is below:
The Honorable Mary Peters Secretary U.S. Department of Transportation 400 Seventh Street S.W. Washington, D.C. 20590
Dear Secretary Peters:
I am writing to express my concerns with the recently announced Department of Transportation's (DOT) pilot program to allow 100 Mexican domiciled trucking companies to operate beyond the current 25 mile commercial zone. I also want to express my disappointment with the Department and FMCSA's lack of communication in informing me and other members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation prior to DOT's public announcement on February 23, 2007.
As you may recall, during your confirmation hearing on September 9, 2006, I expressed my interest and concern about a rumored pilot program that would allow Mexican domiciled trucks to operate beyond their current scope of authority. During my questioning, you clearly stated that you questioned staff at DOT about the pilot program and were told that there was no immediate plan to implement such a program. You also stated that you would get down to the bottom of the "so-called" rumors surrounding the issue. I concluded my questioning by stating that I would very much appreciate having a dialogue with your department and the agencies that may be developing this program. Unfortunately, I've yet to hear from you or FMCSA regarding this pilot program.
Since your public announcement of this pilot program, I have conducted a brief overview of the proposed pilot program. As you can imagine, I still have many questions regarding this program and am most concerned about potential safety and security risks that may come with its implementation. Specifically, I'm very concerned with the ability of the Department of Transportation and other homeland security agencies to ensure 100% compliance to all safety, insurance, and emission standards as well as fees and taxes currently required for domestic trucks, drivers and trucking companies.
The Department's failure to communicate the plan to rollout this program has frustrated me. I believe there are other members on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology and in the Senate that share my concerns. I'm hopeful that the Senate will soon examine the Department's proposal and the lack of communication between the Department and Members of Congress. Please know that I continue to maintain an interest in this issue and wish to work with you, but this must include constructive dialogues with interested parties, as well as Members of Congress. I would appreciate you keeping me and other interested members informed of any future developments on this pilot program and any other plans to expand operation authority to foreign domiciled trucks.
In addition, I would appreciate an update on a trucking security amendment that I offered during debate of the Port Security bill that became Public Law (P.L. 109-347) on October 13, 2006. My trucking security amendment became Section 703 of the law. Section 703 provided three directives for DOT. The first was for DOT to issue regulations to verify legal status of all licensed commercial drivers. The second was for DOT to develop commercial driver's license antifraud programs. The third and final directive was for DOT to issue guidelines for Federal, State and local law enforcement personnel on how to identify noncompliance with Federal laws uniquely applicable to commercial motor vehicle and commercial motor vehicle drivers engaged in cross border traffic. These directives are to be completed within an 18 month time frame.
Thank you for considering my request. I look forward to working with you on this issue in the future. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance.
Cc: Administrator John Hill, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator