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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.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "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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