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Motor carriers that use Pre-Employment Screening Program show decline in truck crashes and out-of-service violations

Written by Steve Gursten Posted December 4th, 2013

FMSCA program pre-screens truckers before hiring and reports an increase in safety — especially among smaller trucking companies

A recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report regarding the agency’s Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP)
revealed that the trucking companies using the program have seen a decline in truck crash rates as opposed to those commercial carriers who were not using the program.

The PSP is a database that helps truck and motor coach companies make more informed hiring decisions by providing electronic access to a truck or bus driver’s crash and inspection history from the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). It includes a snapshot of five years of crash data and three years of inspection data on the individual trucker.

The FMCSA established the Pre-Employment Screening Program in order to comply with a law requiring the agency to store information related to individual driver safety performance, and make it accessible. The data is available to employers conducting pre-employment screening for the motor carrier industry.

Currently, the PSP has records for about 3.5 million truck and bus drivers. The records are refreshed once a month.

The PSP was launched in the spring of 2010. It’s a voluntary program, and trucking companies are currently not required to use the system to prescreen truck and bus drivers. Although using the system is not mandatory, a trucking company or bus company would be crazy not use this tool. A recent study showed that the PSP program has successfully helped lower truck accidents on the highway. This program has proven to make the roads safer, and filter out the dangerous truck and bus who cut corners on safety.

Consider the statistics. Data showed that for trucking companies using the PSP:

  • Overall truck crash rates fell 8%.
  • There was 20.6% decrease in overall truck accidents in for small trucking companies who employ between 6 and 20 truckers.
  • For companies with 21-100 truck drivers, overall crashes declined by 21.1%.
  • All trucking companies and bus companies who are using the system saw a 17.2% decrease in out-of-service violations.
  • Among the largest trucking companies, there was only a 3.4% decrease in truck crashes.

Numbers don’t lie. This is a fantastic tool in the FMCSA’s battle against unsafe truck and bus drivers. Truck drivers are the very last line of defense protecting everyone against dangerous big-rigs on the highway. The trucker always has the power to refuse to operate the vehicle if he feels that it is unsafe. If the semi-truck is poorly maintained or could malfunction, the driver can use his discretion and refuse to drive. The driver can pull off of the road in bad weather at his discretion, and the truck driver is ultimately responsible for observing the hours of service.

Because of the great power vested in the truck driver, it is absolutely imperative that trucking companies do all that they can to screen truckers before giving them keys to an 80,000 pound truck. Although the PSP is only a voluntary program by law, for any trucking company who cares even the smallest bit about safety, this screening tool is a proverbial no-brainer.

With the PSP proven to decrease truck accidents — especially among smaller carriers — this should be something that the FMCSA mandates. But until then, all that we can do as truck accident lawyers and safety advocates, is urge trucking companies to do the right thing and use the PSP to screen drivers before putting them behind the wheel of a semi-truck.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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