Mexican truck company with poor safety record drops out of cross-border pilot project.

The Teamsters Union demands to know why US inspectors opened the border to a Mexican truck company with an abysmal safety record.

The company last week dropped out of the cross-border trucking pilot program with no explanation from the Transportation Department.

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters claimed her inspectors had carefully checked Mexican trucks before they were permitted to use American highways as part of her cross-border trucking pilot project.

One of the companies, Trinity Industries de Mexico, withdrew its 16 trucks from the program on Feb. 1.

“Mary Peters has some explaining to do,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president. “She claimed that she only opened the border to Mexican trucks after they passed rigorous safety inspections. Now we learn that Trinity Industries averaged 112 safety violations per truck—according to the Transportation Department’s own statistics—in the year before it was allowed to use American highways.”

Hoffa questioned whether it was a coincidence that Trinity dropped out of the pilot program shortly after a declaration was made to the federal court about the company’s many serious safety violations.

The Teamsters, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club and the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association are challenging the legality of the cross-border pilot program in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Oral arguments will be heard on Feb. 12.

The US Senate voted 75 to 23 and the House voted 411 to 3 to keep the border closed to unsafe Mexican trucks. The legislation became law on December 26, 2007 as part of the Omnibus budget bill. Under Peter’s direction, the Department of Transportation has refused to comply with the law.

The declaration to the court states that Trinity received 1,123 safety violations in the year before the border was opened, or 112 violations per vehicle.

Trinity drivers and trucks were put out of service 75 times, but according to the criteria used by the Transportation Department they should have received another 476 out-of-service orders.

Federal law defines out-of-service violations as conditions “where an imminent hazard” is present. “Imminent hazard” is defined by federal law as “any condition of vehicle, employee or commercial motor vehicle operations which substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death if not discontinued immediately.”

The Teamsters launched a “Fire Mary Peters” campaign to alert the public to the Transportation Secretary’s lawless actions.