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473700-00071-1 Report Abstract

Evaluating Mexican Truck Safety at the Texas/Mexico Border

Mike Schofield and Robert Harrison, University of Texas at Austin, September 2007, 26 pp. (473700-00071-1)

In June 2004 the U.S Supreme Court ruled that the United States should open its borders to cross-border trucking and so fulfill its treaty obligations under the NAFTA.  Opponents of this action included those who believed that Mexican trucks were unable to meet current U.S. trucking safety standards on a consistent basis.  This report examines this legitimate concern by evaluating border trucking data collected at border safety inspection facilities (BSIF) operated by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).  Safety statistics derived from Mexican trucks crossing the U.S. border are compared with American truck safety data to determine whether there is any warrant for the safety concerns that helped delay the border opening.  The results show that out of service rates are now not significantly different between the two countries.  While increased border inspections since 2001 have reduced out of service citation rates, 2003 and 2004 seem to mark a plateau for 2005 and 2006, where increased inspections may have had a diminished effect in lowering rates.  This, if confirmed by safety data collected for later years, may put into question the benefits of the planned permanent border safety inspection facilities – still not all in service in 2006 – relative to their substantial operational costs and the possible distortions in state truck safety from having a large percentage of DPS staff allocated to the southern part of Texas.

Keywords: Mexican Truck Safety, NAFTA, Safety Inspection Stations, Texas-Mexico Border

ENTIRE REPORT (Adobe Acrobat File – 420 KB)