Last week, the federal government announced new plans to allow more Mexican trucking companies to have access to US highways. Other than some limited trials, Mexican trucks have been limited by law to only driving within 25 miles of the US/Mexico border. But under the new proposal, the trucks could continue on into the United States.
This has huge implications for Austin and the rest of Texas. If you’ve driven on I35, you know that 18 wheelers make up a significant portion of traffic. A large part of that has to do with NAFTA and international trade with Mexico. The Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M has provided quite a bit of information on Texas trucking traffic. According to TTI, in 1995, 739,800 trucks entered Texas by border crossing. By 1999, that number was up to approximately 2,300,000, and that number continues to increase. By TTI’s estimate, truck tonnage will double over the next twenty years. Overall, US-Mexico truck trade value over Texas highways represents a stunning 10% of the value of all US international trade. Most of that comes via I35 and comes right through the Austin area.
And the problem will only get worse. In 2003, more than 2,500 trucks per week traveled through Austin with NAFTA trade. But by 2020, it’s estimated that number could increase to 7,500 to 15,000 trucks per week traveling I35 through Austin and Central Texas.
There are definitely safety concerns with the proposal. What additional resources, if any, are going to be pledged to help ensure that Mexican trucks comply with US and Texas regulations? I’m not sure, and I don’t think they’ve been worked out yet. The biggest thing we fear is a rash of new trucking accidents, not only in the Austin-area, but all up and down the I35 corridor.
We previously posted about this issue in 2007 when this issue was in the news then. You can read that post which has a little more information about the risk of additional trucking accidents posed by this action.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident and want to learn about your rights, please call us at (512)476-4944 or submit your case on this website. Brooks Schuelke will be happy to help answer your questions and to try and help you avoid mistakes that can ruin your claim.