Mexican truckers must know
Sept. 1, 2007
By Lynn Brezosky
Tucson, Arizona | Published:
comprendo" isn't going to cut it.
Interstate truck and bus drivers across America may be fined if their English
skills are lacking.
language requirement has been on the books for decades, but enforcement has been
stepped up as officials prepare for Mexican trucks being allowed in the U.S.
interior as of Sept. 6.
found people in violation of this for a number of years, and we're working
feverishly to correct it," said John Hill, head of the Federal Motor Carrier
1971, federal law has said commercial drivers must read and speak English
"sufficiently to understand highway traffic signs and signals and directions
given in English and to respond to official inquiries."
the language deficiency was found mostly in the commercial zone that varies from
25 to 75 miles north of the international border. But since inspectors there are
bilingual and Mexican truckers are not allowed past that zone, it has not been
more than a decade of legal wrangling, U.S. highways are opening up.
American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 called for Mexican and U.S. trucks to
travel freely in both nations, but the provision was stalled by labor and
program allowing a limited number of already approved Mexican trucks to pass the
border zone was set to begin as early as today, but Hill said no trucks will
pass beyond the border zone pending a final report by the inspector general.
program is now set to take effect next week, though it could still be stopped by
a Teamsters Union request before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
language requirement is part of a long checklist — including criminal background
and drug and alcohol tests — that carriers must pass to go into the interior.
commercial drivers going into the Mexican interior, part of the reciprocal
agreement, will have to speak Spanish.
new enforcement regulations, drivers who can't speak English in the commercial
zone may be ticketed and fined.
beyond the border zone will also be pulled off the road.
Henderson, director of government affairs for the Commercial Vehicle Safety
Alliance, a nonprofit group representing federal and state highway inspectors
and highway patrols, said the requirement was a "no-brainer."
bottom line is safety," Henderson said. "Obviously, if (the driver) can't speak
English he's not going to know what some of the regulations are."