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Grupo Behr gets authority to be in struggling border program

Grupo Behr becomes the 10th Mexico-domiciled carrier to be granted authority to deliver freight beyond the commercial trade zone. Meanwhile, the project itself continues to fall far short of desired outcomes.

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

2/15/2013

WASHINGTON — Almost a year-and-a-half after it applied to participate in the Cross-Border Long-Haul Trucking Pilot Program, Mexico-domiciled carrier Grupo Behr has been granted authority to participate in the project.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will make it official in a Federal Register notice to be published Tuesday.

Grupo Behr becomes the 10th Mexico-domiciled carrier to be granted authority to deliver freight beyond the commercial trade zone. Meanwhile, the project itself continues to fall far short of desired outcomes.

Through Jan. 27, there had been 553 inspections, only 13 percent of the 4,100 the FMCSA said would be necessary to gauge the success of the program, which has another 18 months to run.

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Over half of those inspections have involved one company — GCC Transportes.

Vehicle out-of-service orders have skyrocketed since GCC Transportes entered the program last October.

Of the 22 vehicle OOS orders issued since Oct. 22, 2012, 20 have gone to GCC Transportes.

Neither has the long-haul aspect of the program materialized.

FMCSA records show that the overwhelming majority of the 1,411 border crossings to date have been to deliver freight within the border states of Texas, New Mexico and California.

GCC Transportes has made 994, or 70 percent, of the border crossings.

Grupo Behr was the first to pass the Pre-Authorization Safety Audit, but in mid-September 2011 when the FMCSA asked for the required public comment on Grupo Behr’s application, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters responded.

The safety advocates and union expressed concern that Grupo Behr’s vehicle maintenance rating within FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) was 45.8 percent.

The safety group further noted that Grupo Behr had 40 vehicle violations in the 24 months prior to August 26, 2011.

OOIDA indicated that publicly available information indicated that Grupo Behr had an inadequate safety history.

Among other issues, the commenting groups also had concerns over specific equipment Grupo Behr planned to use, about the history of drivers the company planned to use, the carrier’s insurance history and its affiliation with other motor carriers.

In mid-October, the agency announced it would delay granting authority to Grupo Behr until it had investigated all concerns expressed in the comments.

During the review of Grupo Behr’s operations, it was determined that Grupo Behr

operated beyond the scope of its operating authority in force at the time. Grupo Behr had a lease agreement with a U.S.-based motor carrier, Maria Guadalupe Carrillo Cervantes

However, federal regulations say that no Mexico-domiciled commercial zone carrier

may lease vehicles for use beyond the commercial zone.

The FMCSA said Grupo Behr terminated that agreement in November 2011.

Based on the original Pre-Authorization Safety Audit or PASA, completion of the focused investigation, corrective action documentation provided by the carrier and improved OOS rates and SMS scores, the FMCSA said it has now deemed Grupo Behr’s safety record sufficient for participation in the pilot program.

Therefore, FMCSA issued operating authority for participation in the pilot program Jan. 29.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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