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Professor creates program to ensure safer U.S. roads


September 15, 2008

A controversial one-year pilot program that has allowed Mexican trucks to travel throughout the United States was supposed to end over the weekend, but instead, will likely move forward. That has an Arizona State University business professor working to start a driver training program to ensure safety on American roads.

Several members of Congress wanted to end the Mexican trucking program over concerns about American jobs, highway safety, security and immigration issues. However, the Bush administration and U.S. Department of Transportation have decided to extend it for two years to further evaluate its effectiveness. The program was created in an effort to generate and streamline international commerce.

“American carriers cannot, technically, employ Mexican drivers right now. They can only work with Mexican carriers on international traffic at the border,” explains associate professor Arnold Maltz of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “That means there is currently a transfer from one driver on the Mexican side to a specialized driver for the border crossing and then another transfer to a U.S. driver on the American side. Hence, lots of extra cost and delays in the system.”

Maltz believes that to help boost international commerce and ensure safety on American roads, more Mexican drivers will be needed, and they’ll require more training. That’s why he’s working in conjunction with Arizona State University’s College of Design and constructNet International, Inc., a private company spun out from ASU and the Del E. Webb School of Construction that partners with top construction organizations to offer online training in several languages. They are starting a Border Enforcement Grant program to better train the drivers.

The grant program focuses on two main issues:

1.) Creating a training program to ensure drivers can become fluent enough in English to operate safely and effectively in the United States.

 2.) Getting a consistent test for inspectors at the border to use to make sure drivers do speak enough English.

Maltz has already made several recent trips to the Arizona-Mexico border to work on his training project, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

However, it is still possible that members of Congress will block funding for the overall Mexican trucking program. They introduced H.R. 6630 over the summer, in an effort to stop the program from continuing. That measure has not come up for a vote and would likely be vetoed by President Bush, if passed.