Mexico will enact a law regulating truck drivers’ hours of service this week. It is the first law of its kind in Mexico, as driving time has never been managed on the federal level before.
Prior to the new regulations, HOS rules were set by individual transportation companies and varied widely.
“As an example, in Mexico you don’t necessarily need two drivers to offer a team driver service,” a leader at a major truckload carrier with a presence in Mexico told FreightWaves under the condition of anonymity. “You can offer it with one driver who will make more money for delivering in less time than normal. Some companies only have a real team driver service.”
Mexico’s new HOS regulations will require drivers to take a 30-minute break after driving for five consecutive hours and an eight-hour break after driving for 14 hours. Drivers are not permitted to drive more than 14 hours in any 24-hour period. Drivers will be required to track their hours and keep logs in their vehicles.
The text of the law instating the regulations attributes them to the need for increased safety on Mexico’s roadways.
“According to data from the Technical Secretariat of the National Council for the Prevention of Accidents, in our country road accidents each year claim 16,500 lives on average and cost the country about 150 billion pesos, which represents 1.7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), this percentage is the sum of direct and indirect costs of said events,” a translated version of the law text states. “There is a direct relationship between driving time and the risk of showing signs of physical or mental fatigue or both and causing its most tragic manifestation: injuries or death resulting from a traffic accident.”
It appears that the 16,500 deaths referenced in the law refers to those related to all traffic accidents, not just accidents involving commercial vehicles. The World Health Organization reported about 16,700 total fatalities on Mexico’s roadways in 2013.
While the introduction of HOS regulations could lead to increased safety on the roads, those in Mexico’s transportation industry also worry about increased transit times, decreased productivity and the potential for cargo theft during rest stops.
Our source predicted all of Mexico’s major markets, with the exception of those closest to the border, will see higher transit times.
“Beside transit time, drivers will be making less money and trucking company fewer kilometers,” he said. “There will be lost productivity, so I believe wages and rates can go high.”
He is also concerned about driver safety when stopping to rest overnight. He said Mexico has a “severe problem with safety over the road,” and forcing drivers to stop will make them vulnerable to theft due to the country’s lack of secure truck stops.
“Shippers are used to putting a lot of pressure on carriers on transit time. Shippers will need to make a lot of adjustments in their production programs,” he said. “In the end, it is better for the industry to take care of the drivers.”
Mexico’s new HOS regulations took effect Tuesday, August 28.