Following is a Statement of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety commending the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations struck a major blow for the safety of all Americans on our streets and highways by reining in an irresponsible proposal recently announced by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to implement a so-called ‘demonstration program’ to open the US southern border to long-haul trucks from Mexico without any safeguards. An amendment adopted in the Senate Committee by voice vote allows DOT to conduct a formal pilot program allowing Mexico-domiciled carriers into the United States only if they comply with current federal safety laws governing how pilot programs are conducted and other safety measures enacted with bi-partisan support in 2001. The amendment also ensures that long-haul Mexican trucks will not have access to United States highways beyond the current commercial zones until American trucking firms have the opportunity for comparable and simultaneous access throughout Mexico.

‘The Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, particularly Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are to be commended for their leadership and the action the Committee took today,’ stressed Jacqueline Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. ‘The US DOT is poised to open the southern border to trucks from Mexico in less than two months while ignoring dangerous and unsafe problems that still exist. Today’s adoption of the amendment will put the brakes on an ill-conceived and ill-advised proposal that threatens the safety of all Americans. Without this quick response to protect the public from a careless and dangerous decision by DOT to sidestep federal safety laws, all of us traveling our roads would be threatened with even greater loss of life and severe injuries. Every year more than 5,000 people die and thousands more are seriously injured in truck crashes. It would be irresponsible to add to that death and injury toll by opening the border prematurely,’ added Gillan.

Gerald Donaldson, senior research director of Advocates, emphasized that the Senate amendment would require DOT to adhere to important legal standards on how to conduct a scientific study and what steps must be taken to protect the safety of the public if the pilot program goes forward. ‘DOT tried to ignore federal requirements to conduct a scientifically credible pilot program and also attempted to avoid any public evaluation of this dangerous proposal. This action by the Senate Committee compels DOT to obey federal safety laws for conducting studies,’ he said.