Program Will Allow Truck Drivers From Mexico in U.S.

Program Will Allow Truck Drivers From Mexico in U.S.

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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsradioA decision by President Bush has some truck drivers furious. A new pilot program will allow 100 drivers from Mexico to work freely through the United States. But some analysts say this may not be a bad thing.

Starting as early as tomorrow, you may see some semi trailers with Mexican plates on the roads. Some of the truck drivers at the Flying J on 900 West are not happy.

"I don't agree with it at all."

"I don't think it's a good thing for the trucking industry. It's hard enough to make a living right now."

"I think it's the dumbest thing I've heard in my life."

Their concerns range from driver and equipment safety to taking away jobs American drivers would be doing otherwise. However, other drivers say they're not concerned.

"I wouldn't see a problem as long as they abide by the laws and they don't try and cut everybody's rates."

This is the debate, and battle lines have been drawn. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters went to federal court to try to block Mexican drivers from operating here.

Utah Trucking Association Executive Director David Creer says, "I can understand completely why a carrier or a trucking company or an owner/operator here would not want this to happen. [It's a] protect-our-turf kind of thing."

Creer says he represents many trucking companies here. Sure enough, like the truck drivers themselves, the stance taken by truck driving companies is diverse.

"I'm sure that people have a good reason to fear this, and I'm sure there are arguments on both sides, but, this could be a huge help to our economy," Creer says.

Creer says they've opened up all borders in Europe, and it seems to be working fine there.

"A truck could go from Ireland to Spain. It's not stopped. It has all uniform laws. So, that makes the movement of freight much more efficient," he says.

As for the safety concerns, Creer says Mexican drivers and trucks will have to live up to U.S. standards. Basically, this decision lives up to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Creer says the U.S. has not fully honored.

"It's basically free trade. It's been hampered for a lot of years because of 9/11 and other things," he says.

Officials from the Governor's Office of Economic Development say trade between Utah and Mexico is very good. They say Utah exported over $110 million worth of goods to Mexico in the first six months of 2007, up five percent from last year.

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