GPS tracking could resolve Mexican trucking dispute
For almost two years Mexican trade officials have protested the lack of free access to American soil by raising tariffs, increasing the cost of around 100 U.S. products exported to Mexico. They contend it is a violation of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and want to see the 25-mile limit on Mexican trucking companies removed.
A pilot program that allowed some Mexican trucking companies to carry freight beyond a 25–mile U.S. commercial zone was not renewed back in 2009, and now officials have resorted to tariff hikes on American imports to get attention from NAFTA and the U.S. government.
While the Obama administration has acquiesced to restart talks on allowing Mexican carriers free access to the U.S. it isn’t being received well by several parties, particularly American truckers.
The DOT has stated that Mexican trucks will need to comply with a full safety audit, U.S. emissions standards and driver background checks; it seems many feel it will be a one-sided deal that would only result in American job losses as well as more illegal aliens and imported drugs.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) an organization representing workers in the freight and transportation-related industries, has said they are “deeply disappointed by the proposal” particularly in a climate of high U.S. unemployment and drug cartel violence, violence that discourages American truckers from reaping benefits of the freer passage between the two countries.
So is this just pointless political grandstanding? Could a more cooperative agreement between the U.S. and Mexico result in significant benefits for both sides? And what would help make sure both sides kept to their agreement?
Is GPS the answer to a thorny diplomatic problem?
GPS tracking has a long history of being used to monitor and manage mobile workers. MRM solutions are very capable at using location-based information to report back to fleet managers on anything from speeding drivers to a failing engine. Fleet management solutions such as Telogis Fleet provide managers with a complete dashboard to oversee fleets with tens of thousands of vehicles, providing an effective web-based program and real-time instant alerts.
So how could a system like that help resolve the Mexican trucking dispute?
If approved carriers, after being checked by the DOT, were registered with a GPS fleet tracking solution monitored by government officials, a range of policy guidelines could be effectively monitored:
- Dangerous driving – One complaint made is that Mexican truck drivers don’t have the same level of driver training and are more likely to be involved in an accident, not to mention the potential lack of compensation available to victims of such an accident. GPS tracking could monitor driving in real-time, alerting officials to speeding, hard braking or swerving so they can intervene or assess drivers accurately.
- Excessive miles – Is the carrier abusing its privilege of operating the U.S. by covering excessive miles, perhaps operating outside of DOT HOS rules? GPS tracking can accurately record actual miles driven and where.
- Suspicious behavior – Rules could be setup to filter specific behavior that is sometimes associated with drug runners or people smuggling, such as odd delivery times or entering zones known to house coyotes or drug dealers.
- Operating outside authorized areas – If specific operating areas for Mexican carriers are setup, a GPS tracking solution could create geozones to alert officials if any vehicle should stray outside of permitted areas, perhaps delivering to states that have opted out of receiving Mexican carriers to provide greater protection to local drivers and warehouse workers.
A GPS fleet tracking solution could be the answer to allaying American fears that the Mexican trucking dispute will only end up hurting the U.S. By improving safety standards and controlling Mexican carriers in the U.S. NAFTA can make sure that any trade agreements don’t endanger anyone unnecessarily.