• Mexico heightens regulations for double tractor trailers

    16 August 2018

    With the goal of reducing accidents involving oversize and overweight vehicles, Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (STC) has introduced two new regulations covering certification requirements for double tractor trailers as well as driving and rest times requirements for professional drivers, raising concerns over Mexico’s long-haul transportation capacity. NOM-012, the first regulation, took effect on February 24 and has officially come into effect on June 26, while NOM-087, the latter regulation, is set to come into effect this month. The new requirements for double tractor trailers include:

    Certification requirements for double tractor trailers (NOM-012) Driving and rest times requirements for professional drivers (NOM-087)
    • Vehicles must install a speed regulator that restricts the vehicle’s speed to 80 kilometers per hour (about 50 mph)
    • Anti-lock brakes are required to improve braking capacity of vehicles
    • Vehicles much have a GPS device to monitor the speed and location of the vehicle
    • Vehicles must have daytime running lights
    • Drivers are required take a 30-minute break every five hours
    • The number of hours a driver can drive is limited to 14 hours, after which they must take an 8-hour break
    • Drivers must keep a logbook documenting their driving hours

    The SCT, with support from the Federal Police, is establishing checkpoints across the country to make sure truckers comply with the new mandate. One of the first checkpoints set up was on No. 931 Gómez Palacio-Jiménez highway in the state of Chihuahua between July 10 and July 13. If truckers are caught driving a double trailer without a valid certificate or violating the driving and rest times requirements, they will face fines of up to USD 1,000 and may get their vehicle confiscated. In 2017, SCT carried out over 100,000 inspections on cargo vehicles en route, and this number is expected to increase significantly with the introduction of these two regulations.

    The fierce enforcement of NOM-012, as well as the potential implementation of NOM-087, has brought strenuous objections from Mexico’s major truck unions. A few days after the double tractor trailer certification requirements took effect, close to 1,000 members of the Association of General Cargo Carriers of the Port of Lázaro Cardenas (ATLAC) protested outside the port facilities to request an extension of the deadline to comply with NOM-012 and express a need for the construction of more rest areas along state highways to facilitate compliance with NOM-087. Truckers also demanded the presence of more inspectors in the state of Michoacán to accelerate the certification process. Similar protests have been occurred in the states of Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Veracruz.

    Although the double tractor trailer certification is free, there are some costs associated with these new regulations. To obtain the permit, transporters must have the physical-mechanical conditions of their vehicles reviewed and obtain a low emissions report, which can only be done at one of the government’s five processing centers in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Mexicali and Villa Hermosa. Analysts have pointed out that these regulations are especially tough for owner-operators and small companies, as they will have a hard time upgrading their fleet and training drivers to meet the new requirements. These two groups account for nearly 50% of trucks in Mexico. In Tamaulipas, for example, the National Confederation of Mexican Carriers, A.C. (CONATRAM) confirmed that double trailer operators that do not have the financial resources to comply with NOM-012 are opting to transit on secondary roads to avoid the STC checkpoints.

    It is still too early to determine the long-term impacts of NOM-012 and NOM-087. In the short-term, freight forwarders in Mexico may have a harder time finding available double tractor trailers that comply with the new regulations. According to industry sources, waiting times have increased from 1 day to 3 days, despite prices remaining practically unchanged. However, this is expected to change in the near future, as the total costs incurred by truckers to comply with NOM-012 and NOM-087 are passed on to shippers. Customers are advised to monitor relevant regulations in Mexico to stay abreast of impact on possible shipping costs.

     

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