PHOENIX — An Arizona Department of Transportation program that helps truck drivers in Mexico better understand and prepare for safety inspections at the border is using technology to provide virtual training during the COVID-19 crisis.
The goal of the training, offered by ADOT’s Border Liaison Unit, is to lower commercial vehicle wait times at the international border by reducing the number of safety problems and other issues that truck drivers must address before leaving commercial ports of entry. This will help make Arizona’s ports more appealing places for trucks to enter the U.S., official said.
Part of ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division, which operates commercial ports of entry, the Border Liaison Unit recently offered its first training by webinar for 30 trucking companies from the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California. More sessions are planned.
“The webinar was a huge success,” said Officer Frank Cordova of the Border Liaison Unit. “We’re looking to make webinar-based workshops a staple of the training we provide, as it allows us to reach even further into Mexico and the U.S. to continue educating the commercial industry.”
The Border Liaison Unit has seen an increase in inquiries from Mexican truckers regarding current emergency restrictions and exemptions for commercial vehicles due to COVID-19. Future sessions will cover safety training that would previously have been conducted in person, with topics such as electronic logbooks and critical items officers look for in inspections.
This assistance complements International Border Inspection Qualification training that ADOT has offered in person since 2016. Drivers certified through this program can share questions and pictures of their vehicles via WhatsApp and communicate with ADOT officers about potential safety issues before driving to the border.
Meeting this demand with a webinar helps ADOT officers and commercial truck drivers observe social-distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 crisis. In the longer term, offering virtual instruction would reduce travel expenses.
“I’m very proud of this unit for finding ways to continue to work with our local and international partners in the trucking industry,” Cordova said. “Even a pandemic won’t keep us from doing the job we’re passionate about.”