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Cabotage Laws Allow Mexican Trucks Full U.S. Travel

Cross Border Trucking

Cross Border Trucking

Many in the trucking industry continue to state that according to the cabotage laws, that trucks from Mexico will only be able to deliver their freight from Mexico to the assigned U.S. destination and can only pick up another load from that destination or close by, and must head back straight to Mexico.

We have been stating that this is incorrect and that Mexican trucks will be able to move freely through-out the United States, even when deadheading to pick up another shipment.

We have confirmed this through correspondence with an official at the U. S. Department of Transportation.

We posed this question through the Trucking Solutions Group:

  • “If a Mexico based truck delivers a load to Idaho, can the driver legally drive from Idaho to Missouri to pick up a load going back to Mexico?   It is 1,617 miles from Boise, Idaho to St. Louis, Missouri,  so can this driver travel any number of miles in the United States  once he or she  is empty, to pick up a load going back to Mexico?  Is this correct?”


  • “Yes, you are correct.  The distance isn’t the answer but rather defining and understanding the movement.” (Dolores Macias, U.S. DOT)

Therefore, we now know with certainty, that due to the way the cabotage laws are written, Mexican trucks and their drivers will have full access to U. S. travel.  Here is the big problem that will most likely be coming . . .

Although the driver can deadhead for the load heading straight back to Mexico, because of the way the cabotage laws are written, it will offer opportunity for U. S. interstate freight to be moved by Mexican nationals for American companies,  (whether they be domiciled in Mexico or the U. S.) at cheaper wages;  even though the law states they may not pick up and deliver within the United States.

Keep in mind that American companies can hire Mexican nationals as long as they are moving freight to and from Mexico.  However, if these drivers can travel through-out the U. S. to pick up another shipment  in order to return to Mexico, the temptation to pick up and deliver another load “along the way” is great.  From what we understand, there have been Canadian drivers who are already doing this and have been for many years.  It only takes a few “changes” on the shipping papers to make it happen.

Because the cross border opening just happens to fall right in line with the enactment of the CSA and the renewal of NAFTA, it is all about moving the freight at the exploitation of the Mexican drivers at a lower wage.  Furthermore, American drivers will continue to remain at their stagnate pay scale due to the influx of a low-pay group of drivers . . . the main objective of the cross border action.   Both Mexican and American truck drivers will be the pawns used in the cross border trucking exploitation.

Even if the Mexican drivers and the U. S. trucking companies adhere to the cabotage laws and do not allow the transporting of goods within the United States before returning to Mexico, I contend that eventually, the companies and trucking organizations will call for this ban to be lifted, citing the excuse of a truck driver shortage.

© 2011, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 34 year veteran ( started at an early age in family moving business) of the trucking industry, many of those years spent over the road. He has been an owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and has owned and operated a moving company, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. One thing though that most will say is that the reason and motivation behind the author, Allen Smith, is the fact he is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. As you read many of the blog posts you’ll discover that he is opinionated and speaks openly about the ongoing issues of the trucking industry. He supports other fellow advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who are in need of honesty, guidance and direction. The list of supporters and like minded people grows daily and their ability to network together and share their thoughts and ideas for the betterment of others within trucking, has allowed the forward movement of... "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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One Response to Cabotage Laws Allow Mexican Trucks Full U.S. Travel. - Post a Comment

  1. Linda Sunkle-Pierucki

    This question has come up before-and I believe I am correct when I say that the way the Cabotage law is written, that same Mexican driver can pick up another load ‘destined to cross the border-any border’! So, the question becomes, can our Mexican driver bring a load to Kansas City, pick up a rail load that originated at the Port of Long Beach and take it into Canada, or to another port, or to its final receiver? All loads involved cross a border. Last I heard about 60% of all truck freight now is cross-border freight. If this is true, there goes 60% of the freight . . .

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