[NOTE: From time to time, Vigillo requests guest articles from recognized industry experts.  We are pleased to have the following post from Annette Sandberg, former FMCSA administrator and current CEO of TransSafe Consulting LLC. ]

Now that the FMCSA has started the Pre-Employment Screening Program – many employers are unsure if or how to use the data contained in the reports.  The FMCSA was mandated by Congress to make this data available to potential employers (after a release is signed by the driver) to help the employing motor carrier make better decisions about hiring safe drivers.  However, many motor carriers still wonder how to use the data in making employment decisions of future drivers.

The FMCSA recently announced changes to the PSP and will now provide even more data for employers to consider. These changes include providing co-driver safety and post crash violations.  It remains to be seen how this additional data may create even more challenges for employers.

In the meantime here are 5 things to consider regarding PSP data.

1.    Carriers should consider using PSP when hiring.

Most employers want as much information possible about a potential employee.  The PSP data provides a good snapshot of a driver’s past driving performance.  This provides an employer more information than can be obtained from running a driver’s motor vehicle record.  Many traffic safety studies show that a driver’s past behavior is a good indicator for future performance.

2.    Have a well defined written process for use and evaluation of the data.

Having a written process, well thought out in advance helps carriers take subjectivity out of the evaluation of the data. This also helps the carrier articulate their goals in using the data for driver selection.   It is also good practice to have any hiring criteria laid out in advance in case you are challenged.

3.    Remember – not all data is equal.

The FMCSA provides 5 years of crash and 3 years of roadside inspection data in the PSP reports.  Most of the data reflected in the report will be from roadside inspections.  Just because a violation shows up on a roadside inspection report does not mean there was sufficient evidence to support a citation for the same violation.  This is why many violations will not show up on the driver’s MVR.  Carriers need to carefully evaluate the data and look for trends or patterns of behavior before coming to any conclusions based on specific violations.  Any serious violations noted should be treated accordingly.

4.    Look for Red Flag violations.

FMCSA closely monitors certain driver violations.  These violations are sometimes called “red flag violations”.  The FMCSA will review a carrier’s drivers and if any of the drivers have had a “red flag violation” the FMCSA will follow up to identify if the carrier has corrected the problem or if the carrier was aware of the problem.  If the FMCSA is watching for these violations so should a carrier. These violations are:

FMCSR Part Description
383.21 Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with more than one driver’s license
383.23(a)(2) Operating a CMV without a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL)
383.51(a) Driving a CMV (CDL) while disqualified
383.91(a) Operating a CMV with improper CDL group
391.11 Unqualified driver
391.11(b)(5) Driver lacking valid license for type vehicle being operated
391.11(b)(7) Driver disqualified from operating CMV
391.15(a) Driving a CMV while disqualified
392.4(a) Driver uses or is in possession of drugs
392.5(a) Possession/use/under influence of alcohol less than 4 hours prior to duty
395.13(d) Driving after being declared out-of-service (OOS)
396.9(c)(2) Operating an OOS vehicle

In addition, I would add Part 395.8(e) – False Report of Drivers Record of Duty Status.  I add this simply because it is my belief if a driver has gotten sloppy enough to get caught roadside with a false log they are probably falsifying their logs frequently.  This driver is a potential risk for a carrier and should be carefully scrutinized.

While not all of these may disqualify a particular driver, they should lead a carrier to ask a few more questions regarding the circumstances of the violation.

5.    Look for other High Point Violations.

The FMCSA has published the point values of all the violations in the Safety Measurement System.  Remember drivers are a direct reflection of a carrier’s safety management program.  If a carrier hires or uses “high risk” drivers their scores will ultimately reflect that practice.  If a driver has accumulated a lot of points for their previous employer – do you think they will do the same for you?  At a minimum a carrier will want to consider the types of violations a driver has accumulated and understand if this is a pattern of behavior or an anomaly.  Again look for patterns or trends that may indicate certain driving behaviors and then decide if this driver is a good fit for your company.