The Teamsters’ union and truckers in general have been protesting the recent change in U.S. policy that now (as of last Thursday) allows Mexican trucking companies to drive anywhere into the United States. Previously, the law required Mexican trucks to drive no farther than about 25 miles into Texas, and somewhat farther into Arizona. The change is a part of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.
While there very well may be economic self-interests at play in these protests, the Teamsters say their primary concern is the safety aspect of allowing Mexican trucks onto U.S. highways.
The U.S. plans to grant permission to approximately 100 Mexican trucking companies by the end of 2007. This is part of a one-year pilot program intended to discover whether it would be safe to eventually allow all Mexican trucking companies into the United States.
Despite assurances from the U.S. government that all Mexican trucks will be inspected for drugs and for illegal immigrants, that the trucks will meet safety regulations, and that the drivers will be well-trained, there is considerable uncertainty among many Americans.
Because the main highway from Mexico into the U.S. runs through the Texas cities of Laredo, San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Dallas, and Fort Worth, we may find out fairly soon whether Texas drivers will be exposed to unusual dangers from the Mexican trucks.