Commercial truck drivers in Mexico who have completed safety instruction offered by the Arizona Department of Transportation "are proving far less likely to be flagged for safety violations when their vehicles arrive at international ports of entry," ADOT said.
In a Jan. 25 news release, the department said the result of that training is "a dramatic improvement that's saving international carriers time and money, making Arizona roads safer and helping Arizona better appeal to drivers who might otherwise use ports in California or Texas."
It said that in December, 106 drivers who participated in the International Border Inspection Qualification training program entered the United States through commercial ports operated by ADOT's Enforcement and Compliance Division "without a safety violation that required taking their trucks out of service for repairs."
And since August, when the ADOT program began training drivers inside Mexico, just two of 667 qualified drivers – or 0.3 percent – have entered Arizona with a violation that required immediate repairs.
That compares with an immediate-repair violation rate of about 5 percent among other commercial drivers using ADOT's international ports, it said.
"This outstanding program has been great both for Arizona and for our neighbors in Sonora," said ADOT Director John Halikowski. "In addition to making roads across Arizona safer, we are reducing inspection times and making Arizona's international ports more appealing to commercial carriers."
Through ADOT's International Border Inspection Qualification training, which it noted is the first such program in this county, department inspectors made eight trips into Mexico in 2017 to educate international truck drivers and company leaders about safety requirements for trucks that would be driving on Arizona roads.
The department has scheduled more training in Mexico for 2018, including three sessions in February.
ADOT inspectors check every commercial truck entering the United States at Nogales, Douglas and San Luis for safety violations, and trucks with the most serious violations to remain at the port of entry until repairs can be made – a costly process that can cause significant delays for commercial carriers.
In addition to benefits of the training, ADOT said drivers who complete the program can use a "Whats App" smartphone application to contact inspectors with questions before they approach the border. That can allow trucking companies to make needed repairs more economically before drivers get on the road.
Another benefit of the program, ADOT said, is that more truck drivers are choosing to enter the U.S. through Arizona's ports instead of those in other states. "More trucks entering the country in Arizona means an even greater boost to our economy," Halikowski said. "Those drivers use more services and buy more items in our state, which helps not only border communities but all of Arizona."
Meanwhile, ADOT said its safety officers have been able to focus more attention on higher-risk vehicles, which has allowed them officers to find more violations despite conducting fewer high-level inspections.
Above: A cargo truck from Mexico crosses into Arizona at the Nogales Port of Entry. Photo / ADOT
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