May, Bill, THE JOURNAL RECORD
The image of beaten-up, overloaded, underinsured trucks from Mexico rolling along Oklahoma interstate highways, threatening accidents with innocent motorists, has caused many people to bemoan some aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Heavy trucks from Mexico should be prohibited and all trucks from other countries should be forced to follow American rules, which limit truck and cargo weight to 90,000 pounds, according to these naysayers. Mexican trucks can weigh as much as 105,000 pounds, so they beat up the road more.
Not many people complain about trucks from Canada, though. The truth is Canada has a higher highway weight limit for trucks -- 120,000 pounds -- than either the United States and Mexico. Harmonization issues between the three countries are wrestling with the weight aspect even now, but one thing is certain. The limit decided upon will be much heavier than the United States current limit. A recommendation from one of the committees of the America's Superhighway Coalition studying issues such as this could help solve the problem before it starts. The committee headed by Linda Richardson of Oklahoma City has recommended that International Trade Compliance Centers be set up in each state bordering I-35 and its major tributaries so that trucks coming into the state can be inspected. Not only would the trucks have to meet weight and size requirements, but they also would be required to be insured. Drivers must be qualified and also have insurance. Part of the committee's recommendation is that the compliance center personnel help truckers know state, national and international trucking regulations so they can comply with them. "We definitely don't want unsafe trucks on the road and this would be one way to eliminate them," Richardson said. "Most people complain about trucks from Mexico but there are a lot of American trucks that don't meet the standards as well as Canadian trucks." The preliminary report from her committee is one of five reports being done by the coalition, which is trying to get international trade corridor status for I-35 and the main highways that intersect with it. This would include I-44 and I-40 in Oklahoma, as well as I- 35. Reports from all five committees are expected to be put into a single document to be sent to members of Congress so they will have something to use in debating the next federal highway bill. That's being called NECTEA by the Clinton Administration. …