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Old September 4th, 2007, 09:01 AM   #1101
hkskyline
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Government enforcing rule that Mexican truckers speak English
31 August 2007

HARLINGEN, Texas (AP) - Interstate truck and bus drivers across America may find themselves pulled off the highway if state troopers or vehicle inspectors find they can't speak English.

The requirement has been on the books for decades, but enforcement has begun before Mexican trucks are allowed in the U.S. interior as of Sept. 6.

"We have found people in violation of this for a number of years and we're working feverishly to correct it," said John Hill, head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Since 1971, federal law has said that commercial drivers must read and speak English "sufficiently to understand highway traffic signs and signals and directions given in English and to respond to official inquiries."

Hill said the language deficiency was found mostly in the commercial zone that varies from 25 miles to 75 miles north of the Mexican border, but since inspectors there are bilingual and Mexican truckers are not allowed past that zone, it hasn't been an issue.

But after more than a decade of legal wrangling, U.S. highways are opening up.

The North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 called for Mexican and U.S. trucks to travel freely throughout one another's nations, but the provision was stalled by labor unions and environmental groups' arguments that the trucks are unsafe.

A pilot program allowing a limited number of already approved Mexican trucks to pass the border zone was set to begin as early as Saturday, but Hill said no trucks will pass beyond the border zone pending a final report by the inspector general. The program is now set to take effect Thursday.

On Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request made by the Teamsters union, the Sierra Club and the nonprofit Public Citizen to halt the program. The appeals court ruled the groups have not satisfied the legal requirements to immediately stop what the government is calling a "demonstration project," but can continue to argue their case.

The government contends that further delays in the project will strain the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.

Mexican truckers, meanwhile, said they were prepared to leave merchandise in Mexican warehouses if U.S. authorities insisted on fines for not knowing English in the border zone.

"We have been talking with U.S. authorities," said Luis Moreno Sesma, president of Mexico's national chamber of cargo haulers. "The law says that the operators should know English to cross the border, but we have said they should have special consideration for the border guys."

The language requirement is part of a long checklist -- including criminal background and drug and alcohol tests -- that carriers must pass to go into the interior. Also required are complete vehicle safety and emissions inspections.

U.S. commercial drivers going into the Mexican interior, part of the reciprocal agreement, will have to speak Spanish.

Under the new enforcement regulations, drivers who can't speak English in the commercial zone may be ticketed and fined. Those beyond the border zone will also be pulled off the road.

Richard Henderson, director of government affairs for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, a nonprofit group representing federal and state highway inspectors and highway patrols, said the requirement was a "no brainer."

"The bottom line is safety," Henderson said. "Obviously, if (the driver) can't speak English he's not going to know what some of the regulations are."

José Rocha Rodríguez was one of the first drivers to be sanctioned for not knowing English. He said he wasn't fined but given a notice saying he could not pass the border zone.

"They talk to you now in English and they've never done that before," he said.

Jose Mendoza, a 25-year-old driver in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, said that it seemed the United State authorities were always coming up with new ways to stop Mexican trucks from traveling beyond the border.

He said the drivers felt discriminated against, and that U.S. officials were looking for any pretext to fine them.

"They are giving us all kinds of fines. Last week, for a headlight that I could change myself, they charged $150. And this after they saw that I was changing it," Mendoza said.

Rigoberto Castañeda, who has been driving for 17 years, agreed that the biggest obstacle the truckers faced was discrimination.

So did Primitivo Gonzalez, owner of a small trucking company.

"The rules they are using right now are very strict," he said.

------

Associated Press Writer Jorge Vargas contributed to this report from Nueveo Laredo, Mexico
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Old September 4th, 2007, 09:28 AM   #1102
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Yeah, you fall asleep driving 65MPH there...
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Old September 4th, 2007, 09:29 AM   #1103
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Another excuse, just three days before the deadline for opening the ways to Mexican trucks and viceversa.

But, will Mexican government demand that US truck drivers speak Spanish and will Québec do the same and ask them to speak French?
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Old September 4th, 2007, 09:33 AM   #1104
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Originally Posted by Yoryi View Post
Another excuse, just three days before the deadline for opening the ways to Mexican trucks and viceversa.

But, will Mexican government demand that US truck drivers speak Spanish and will Québec do the same and ask them to speak French?
English is an international business languague, spoken by many who don't have it as first languague.

In Europe, sometimes you'll see trouble with Polish, Ukrainian or Russian driver who don't speak a word english. It's easier to expect from people to speak at least English, rather than expect some driver to speak 25 languages.
Some eastern European drivers speak a little German, German is an important languague in Europe too, spoken by many as their 3rd languague.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 11:29 AM   #1105
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Yeah, you fall asleep driving 65MPH there...
I remember a couple years ago I went out to some caves in west Texas with a girl I was dating and on Interstate 10 I was averaging 95mph. She noticed I was doing between 90 and 100 and I said "let's see what the speed limit feels like." I slowed down to 75 and it felt like we could just step out and be OK. Slowing down to 55 felt like we were crawling. I guess that's "highway hypnosis" for you. I remember reading or seeing somewhere that Interstates are usually built to be straight as possible which leads to sleepiness on long journeys.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 01:00 PM   #1106
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I drove once in Toronto at the highway 401 and the QEW. The Canadians were verry diciplined drivers in compare with Dutch or European drivers.
I think because there is a 'stay you're lane system'. And most vehicles are automatic, sow everybody can drive easygoing.

I live at the German border. If I want to go to the nortern or southern Netherlands, I always take the German autobahn. In my opinion, German exits-curves are too sharp in comparing with the Dutch-exits.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 05:23 PM   #1107
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I slowed down to 75 and it felt like we could just step out and be OK.
I know what you mean, i just drove on the ringroad of my city, and you have to slow down from a crappy 70km/h to a even more crappy 50km/h limit. It felt like i'd have to gear back to the 1st gear, but i had to gear back from 5th to 4th gear. 50km/h (31MPH) on a 2x2 road without cyclist or sidewalk just makes no sense. It's all political, offcourse there was a speed trap at the 50km/h section.

Speed checks here just feel like some extra tax, the goverment makes almost half a billion euro's anually from speed fines, and the majority of the income is from fines under 20km/h too fast.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 09:10 PM   #1108
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Originally Posted by FM 2258 View Post
I remember a couple years ago I went out to some caves in west Texas with a girl I was dating and on Interstate 10 I was averaging 95mph. She noticed I was doing between 90 and 100 and I said "let's see what the speed limit feels like." I slowed down to 75 and it felt like we could just step out and be OK. Slowing down to 55 felt like we were crawling. I guess that's "highway hypnosis" for you. I remember reading or seeing somewhere that Interstates are usually built to be straight as possible which leads to sleepiness on long journeys.
Yeah a few months ago me and my parents turned of a motorway in Spain, and going from 120 right to 90 felt like afterwads a pedestrian could overtake us.
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Old September 4th, 2007, 09:32 PM   #1109
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I drove once in Toronto at the highway 401 and the QEW. The Canadians were verry diciplined drivers in compare with Dutch or European drivers.
I think because there is a 'stay you're lane system'. And most vehicles are automatic, sow everybody can drive easygoing.
You've got to be kidding me. This so-called "stay in your lane" system does not make any sense what-so-ever. I don't even want to compare the US with Europe, just look at different states. Since I moved to Washington state almost a month ago, I have noticed an obvious improvement in drivers' behaviour - very few of them block the left lane. Compared to Germany or France, they are still slow to move over, but compared to California, they are much more disciplined. Besides, it seems that the Washington Department of Transportation agrees with my point of view because every few kilometres they post "Slower Traffic Keep Right" signs not only on motorways but also on 2+1 roads. They even go beyond that and recommend slower traffic to drive on the shoulder (emergency lane) on 1+1 roads. How cool is that?
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Old September 4th, 2007, 10:54 PM   #1110
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Hehe... Maybe it's time to remove all these useless textual signs from the road? I went to Montana on Labour Day holidays and found out that Montana DOT uses more pictorial warning signs (some resembled European a lot) than other Western states.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 03:09 AM   #1111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris1491 View Post
English is an international business languague, spoken by many who don't have it as first languague.

In Europe, sometimes you'll see trouble with Polish, Ukrainian or Russian driver who don't speak a word english. It's easier to expect from people to speak at least English, rather than expect some driver to speak 25 languages.
Some eastern European drivers speak a little German, German is an important languague in Europe too, spoken by many as their 3rd languague.
That's OK for Europe where you can find more than 25 languages, but here in North America there are only 3, and all of them (English, French and Spanish) are among the most spread languages in the world... And, I don't think it is too much difficult to find a Spanish-speaking officer in southern US.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 05:31 AM   #1112
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Whether or not it's required, I think it would be utterly insane to send American truck drivers who can't speak Spanish OR Mexican truck drivers who can't speak English more than a few miles into the opposite country. I mean, for God's sake, what's a proud, America-lovin', God-fearin' English-only truck driver going to do if his truck breaks down somewhere like Tecate, where LITERALLY nobody who works in a service industry is likely to speak more than broken English? And I'd argue the same about sending truck drivers into Quebec who don't speak French. Sure, everyone and his brother in Montreal speaks perfectly good English... but that's NOT necessarily the case even 10-20 miles away from the island. You could possibly cut the driver some slack if he's only driving from the US to Montreal, but sending a driver with no grasp of French to Quebec City would be nuts.

That said, Mexico and the US have a LONG way to go to make driving across the border as safe and painless as it is for Americans and Canadians. At the very least, American auto insurance should be valid in Mexico, and Mexico needs to quit automatically arresting Americans involved in accidents and holding them for days or weeks afterward. As it stands, an American would have to be absolutely insane to risk driving in Mexico under current laws. An American who rear-ends a car in Mexico and damages the rear bumper (with no injuries) automatically gets thrown in jail and treated worse than a drunk driver in the US who's been charged with manslaughter. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, an American driving a car in Mexico that GETS rear-ended by a MEXICAN driver would be jailed and treated like a criminal, too, even if he did absolutely nothing wrong himself. Apparently, in Mexico, merely being involved in an automobile accident is a criminal offense, regardless of fault. From what I've read, if there's an accident and anybody does get hurt, they'll actually arrest everyone -- drivers, passengers, and maybe even eyewitnesses(?!?) -- and can hold everyone for hours, or even days, until they've decided who's actually responsible for the accident.

In Mexico, you're guilty until proven innocent.

Last edited by miamicanes; September 5th, 2007 at 06:06 AM.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 07:54 AM   #1113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Von Königsberg View Post
You've got to be kidding me. This so-called "stay in your lane" system does not make any sense what-so-ever. I don't even want to compare the US with Europe, just look at different states. Since I moved to Washington state almost a month ago, I have noticed an obvious improvement in drivers' behaviour - very few of them block the left lane. Compared to Germany or France, they are still slow to move over, but compared to California, they are much more disciplined. Besides, it seems that the Washington Department of Transportation agrees with my point of view because every few kilometres they post "Slower Traffic Keep Right" signs not only on motorways but also on 2+1 roads. They even go beyond that and recommend slower traffic to drive on the shoulder (emergency lane) on 1+1 roads. How cool is that?
Well, drivers here in Ontario are apparently relatively disciplined, even as I read on this same forum several times. People do not usually block the left lane, but the case with the 401 (on which the poster to whom you responded drove) is a little special. That highway is very large, and usually there is a lot of traffic (even in quiet times). Also, especially while inside Toronto, the 401 can be quite confusing to drive on because its width changes and the right lanes sometimes just disappear and sometimes several may reappear, and in addition sometimes the left lanes suddenly exit the collector lanes and merge onto the express, and vice versa. Because of this, people don't like to keep to the right-most lane, because that lane is a little "unstable", and also has many cars joining the freeway. I usually like to keep to a lane that's at least one position left of the right-most lane (which still usually leaves from 2 to around 6 lanes to the left of me, when in Toronto). But generally speaking, if traffic is light, people here in Toronto don't hog the left-most lane, and generally it is open for overtaking (read - speeders who generally drive much faster than the speed limit ).
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Old September 6th, 2007, 01:00 AM   #1114
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Why does Dallas got more highway projects than any other in United States? Don't they know there are other cities out there that needs attention such as DC, NYC, Seattle, LA, Atlanta, Chicago and many other cities? Do they see the traffic on these cities? Its getting worst.
LA has more than Dallas..
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Old September 6th, 2007, 01:23 AM   #1115
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California the worst?? not even close.. id say New York..
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Old September 6th, 2007, 03:56 AM   #1116
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Michigan has the worst quality roads, however they do tend to be of adequate size for the traffic.

California probably has the biggest problem with perpetual congestion on its roads. Even its smaller cities like San Diego have expressways that are congested at most times of day. In the coastal cities, they're also surprisingly banged up for a region with such mild weather (i.e. less expansion/contraction and freeze/thaw problems compared to elsewhere). California does get major points though for impressive network of expressways, large size of roads, impressive stack interchanges, numerous advances in road construction, etc.

New York state has similar problems to California, plus even more potholes. I give New York credit though, because downstate (especially NYC) has lots of feasible alternatives to driving. Upstate New York has some of the harshest weather in the country.

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Old September 6th, 2007, 08:41 AM   #1117
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Whether or not it's required, I think it would be utterly insane to send American truck drivers who can't speak Spanish OR Mexican truck drivers who can't speak English more than a few miles into the opposite country. I mean, for God's sake, what's a proud, America-lovin', God-fearin' English-only truck driver going to do if his truck breaks down somewhere like Tecate, where LITERALLY nobody who works in a service industry is likely to speak more than broken English? And I'd argue the same about sending truck drivers into Quebec who don't speak French. Sure, everyone and his brother in Montreal speaks perfectly good English... but that's NOT necessarily the case even 10-20 miles away from the island. You could possibly cut the driver some slack if he's only driving from the US to Montreal, but sending a driver with no grasp of French to Quebec City would be nuts.

That said, Mexico and the US have a LONG way to go to make driving across the border as safe and painless as it is for Americans and Canadians. At the very least, American auto insurance should be valid in Mexico, and Mexico needs to quit automatically arresting Americans involved in accidents and holding them for days or weeks afterward. As it stands, an American would have to be absolutely insane to risk driving in Mexico under current laws. An American who rear-ends a car in Mexico and damages the rear bumper (with no injuries) automatically gets thrown in jail and treated worse than a drunk driver in the US who's been charged with manslaughter. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, an American driving a car in Mexico that GETS rear-ended by a MEXICAN driver would be jailed and treated like a criminal, too, even if he did absolutely nothing wrong himself. Apparently, in Mexico, merely being involved in an automobile accident is a criminal offense, regardless of fault. From what I've read, if there's an accident and anybody does get hurt, they'll actually arrest everyone -- drivers, passengers, and maybe even eyewitnesses(?!?) -- and can hold everyone for hours, or even days, until they've decided who's actually responsible for the accident.

In Mexico, you're guilty until proven innocent.
That's F'd up.
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Old September 6th, 2007, 08:49 AM   #1118
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In fact, if I'm not mistaken, an American driving a car in Mexico that GETS rear-ended by a MEXICAN driver would be jailed and treated like a criminal, too, even if he did absolutely nothing wrong himself. Apparently, in Mexico, merely being involved in an automobile accident is a criminal offense, regardless of fault. From what I've read, if there's an accident and anybody does get hurt, they'll actually arrest everyone -- drivers, passengers, and maybe even eyewitnesses(?!?) -- and can hold everyone for hours, or even days, until they've decided who's actually responsible for the accident.

In Mexico, you're guilty until proven innocent.
Spring breaker urban legends?

I think you know about Mexican law as good as I know about laws in Miami. I mean: nothing.

In other points I totally agree with you. Sending abroad a driver who does not know the local language is not a good idea.
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Old September 6th, 2007, 08:53 AM   #1119
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Spring breaker urban legends?

I think you know about Mexican law as good as I know about laws in Miami. I mean: nothing.

In other points I totally agree with you. Sending abroad a driver who does not know the local language is not a good idea.
I saw a special on this exact thing happening about 10 years ago on NBC Dateline. Family from California was down in the Baja and got in an accident and the dad got thrown in Jail.

http://studentsafety.ucsd.edu/mexico_tips.asp

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Old September 6th, 2007, 09:34 AM   #1120
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In other points I totally agree with you. Sending abroad a driver who does not know the local language is not a good idea.
Not knowing a local language is not such a problem. In Europe, there are dozens of language within a 1000 mile radius. You can't expect a trucker or anyone to know 25 languages. But the international business language is English, whether you like it or not. I think it's important everyone knows English.
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