Exposed

Todd Dills | October 01, 2010

A new program sheds intense light on driver crash and inspection records. For good drivers, safety equals bargaining power for pay.


Since its launch in May, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new Pre-Employment Screening Program has been used more and more by carriers, as well as owner-operators and drivers. More than 2,200 motor carriers have subscribed to the service, says Elizabeth Pemmerl, representative of Olathe, Kan.-based NIC Technologies, which administers the program for FMCSA.

Pre-Employment Screening Program reports on driver inspections cover three years and are updated monthly.

While the familiar DAC reports focus on employment history, the PSP offers a history of U.S. Department of Transportation contact with drivers. This includes three years of driver, vehicle and hazmat inspections and five years of crash incidents. Based on data contained in the Motor Carrier Management Information System database, updated monthly, the PSP’s live reports give carriers their first opportunity to look at an individual’s inspection history.

Since even seemingly minor marks on an inspection report may affect carriers’ safety performance scores under Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010, carrier interest in the PSP has been high, averaging more than 3,000 report requests a week.

“Our highest adoption rates have come from CSA 2010 pilot states,” says Pemmerl. “As carriers review their screening process, they are adopting PSP in hopes of improving their CSA 2010 scores,” which are tied to the seven Behavioral Analysis Safety and Improvement Categories, or BASICs.

One controversial aspect of the Pre-Employment Screening Program is that the crash section does not include if the accident could have been prevented or details about who was at fault.

One such carrier, Transport America, headquartered in Eagan, Minn., a CSA pilot state since May 2009, has begun using PSP reports at the final stage of reviewing lease candidates, says Director of Safety Gary Falldin. “If we see a driver with log issues in the past, we’ll sit down and make sure they understand where we stand on logging. In the past, that driver would have been hired and we’d never have known about the problem. But now, we’ll likely still hire him but we know about the problems, and we can help him fix them.”

Prime Inc. Director of Recruiting John Hancock agrees. “Seventy to 80 percent of the data we’ve never seen before,” he says. The Missouri-based motor carrier is utilizing the PSP to cross-reference applicant-provided employment histories and exploring other potential uses. Hancock also notes the PSP’s potential use in helping safety personnel identify where to enhance training.

The program’s relationship to CSA 2010, scheduled to launch in November, makes a clean PSP report an attractive document for a carrier considering leasing an owner-operator. In a Truckload Carriers Association meeting in August, Dart Transit Safety Director Elaine Briles said she could easily envision a day when owner-operators approach carriers with their PSP and say, “I have a perfect PSP. How much are you going to pay me?”


“The good, safe drivers are going to be in a position where the balance of power between the carrier and the driver is going to shift dramatically.”

— Steven Bryan, CEO of database company Vigillo

 


Steven Bryan, CEO of database company Vigillo, also sees this development as “a ray of sunshine” for drivers. Vigillo, which has been offering carriers estimates of their BASIC scores since October 2009, is planning a data analysis product for drivers that contains a computation of driver CSA 2010 scores based on PSP data.

“What drivers will have is a report that says, ‘Hey, I’m a good driver, and I can prove it,’” Bryan says. “They’ll have their roadside resume to go to their employer, and say, ‘I can do this job.’ ” Add that to reports of a coming driver shortage and, Bryan adds, “the good, safe drivers are going to be in a position where the balance of power between the carrier and the driver is going to shift dramatically.”

That hasn’t happened yet, says Joe Rajkovacz, regulatory affairs specialist for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “People should be looking, and people aren’t,” Rajkovacz says, noting cases where operators have seen faulty marks on their reports.

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