PHOENIX – A popular smartphone messaging app is helping to make Arizona roads safer for motorists and truck drivers while reducing congestion at the international border and boosting Arizona’s economy.
As part of a first-of-its-kind safety certification program for truck drivers and trucking firms in Mexico, the Arizona Department of Transportation is using WhatsApp to help qualified drivers and mechanics know whether their trucks meet Arizona safety requirements before heading to the border.
It’s part of an effort that has members of ADOT’s Border Liaison Unit offering a two-day International Border Inspection Qualification safety course in Mexico. The first workshop was held recently in San Luis Río Colorado, and the next is scheduled for Aug. 22-23 in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora.
“We’re taking this historic step because a border crossing process that is efficient for international commerce and improves roadway safety is absolutely essential for both Arizona and Sonora,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “This innovative program is part of an ongoing effort to make sure we are doing our jobs the best way possible in the interest of both economic growth and safety on Arizona roads.”
Drivers who complete the course and pass both a 65-question test and a practical exam of truck safety will receive a certificate allowing them to use WhatsApp to send photos of trucks to ADOT inspectors before they approach the border. Inspectors will either tell them the truck meets safety requirements or explain what needs to be corrected.
It’s an extension of an effort launched in 2016 to teach commercial truckers in Mexico what to expect in safety inspections once they enter Arizona. The Border Liaison Unit held safety inspection classes at three border ports of entry – San Luis, Nogales and Douglas – before taking its training program into Mexico.
These efforts stem from ADOT’s use of the Arizona Management System championed by Governor Doug Ducey. This approach to continuous improvement empowers employees at state agencies to come up with innovative ways to better serve customers.
Juan Ciscomani, the governor’s senior adviser for regional and international affairs, praised ADOT’s efforts.
“ADOT is conducting trainings focused on helping transportation companies better prepare for the safety inspection process once they enter Arizona,” Ciscomani said. “This work is helping speed up the flow of trade and improving the competitiveness of our region, which has been a priority for Governor Ducey.”