Amid debate, Mexican trucks drive in US

Mexico City_The debate continues about allowing Mexican tractor-trailers onto U.S. Interstate highways.  Meanwhile, hundreds of such trucks are already hauling cargo across the country. And they've been doing it for years.

More than 1,000 south-of-the-border companies drive cargo beyond the border zone under a long-standing exemption to the U.S.  Moratorium on Mexican long-haul trucking.  And U.S. Department of Transportation records show these Mexican drivers and trucks have had better driver and vehicle safety records than their U.S. Counterparts in recent years.

However, opponents claim many violations never get recorded because of sloppy government record-keeping.  The governments of both the United States and Mexico are pushing for opening the highways, saying that'll create new business opportunities on both sides of the border.

Trucks were supposed to begin rolling both ways in 2000 under the North American Free Trade Agreement, but U.S. interest groups blocked it.  Meanwhile, Canadian truckers face no such restrictions.  Opponents, including the Teamsters Union, have waged protests at the border and on Capitol Hill, waving signs saying "NAFTA Kills'' and "Unsafe Mexican Trucks.''

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.