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Mexican trucks barred from US again

President Obama has signed legislation killing the Transportation Department’s controversial test of longhaul cross-border trucking with Mexico. As a trucking safety trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, I haven’t yet seen problems with Mexican truckers but I do see truckers who don’t speak English although adequate English proficiency is required under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

A provision of a $410 billion spending bill prevents DOT from using any money in the 2009 fiscal year to “establish, implement, continue, promote or in any way permit” a cross-border trucking program with Mexico. However, the Department of Transportation quickly released a statement to the effect that officials would study the issue some more.

All this is well summarized in an article by Sean McNally in Transport Topics.

Until President Clinton signed a moratorium on admission of Mexican trucks in 1994, Mexican trucks entered the US routinely, much as Canadian trucks do.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) trucking companies in all three counties claimed rights to move freely back and forth between the countries. However, it never happened with Mexican trucks.

The US DOT over the past couple of years made halting efforts to begin admitting a limited number of Mexican truckers to the US. However, there was a firestorm of controversy, largely expressed in terms of maintaining US safety standards on Mexican trucks entering the US when safety standards and enforcement in Mexico are questionable. There were also concerns expressed about the violent drug trade in Mexico, and the potential for Mexican trucks smuggling drugs, illegal immigrants and terrorists.

Now the Mexican government is talking about economic retribution and Mexican trucking companies are threatening lawsuits in US courts.

Ken Shigley is an interstate trucking trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.