What You Need to Know about the FMCSA PSP Program

February 28, 2022


With driver shortages impacting every industry, resist the desire to hire just any driver to fill the void. Screen potential employees’ driving records first with the FMCSA PSP program.  

By VP of Loss Control Tom MacCallum

Top of mind for commercial fleet carriers in 2022 is contending with the acute driver shortage, which the American Trucking Associations[1] estimates to be more than 80,000 drivers.

Yet carriers shouldn’t indiscriminately hire drivers to fill the void, particularly with the increasing frequency of nuclear verdicts and its impact on high auto insurance rates. Average verdicts in the U.S. trucking industry jumped from just above $2.3 million in 2010 to nearly $22.3 million a decade later, an increase of 967%, according to the American Transportation Research Institute[2].

So how can carriers make more informed hiring decisions?

Better Equipped to Hire with PCP

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP)[3] has been providing easy access to commercial drivers’ five-year crash and three-year inspection history for years. While not mandatory, the program is considered a best practice because electrically accessing these records is more efficient than obtaining the information via the Freedom of Information Act or Privacy Act.

For companies not currently taking advantage of this PSP service, it may be time to reconsider. Companies utilizing PSPs to screen job applicants have been documented to lower their crash rate an average of 8% and driver out-of-service rates by 17%. For mid-size carriers, the crash rate decrease was even more significant: 20.6% for motor carriers with six to 20 drivers and 12.1% for carriers with 21 to 100 drivers.3

Crunching these numbers, one 12-month study of a commercial fleet carrier[4] revealed that active utilization of the PSP program prevented 863 crashes and more than 3,500 driver out of service incidents.

In other words, hiring drivers with a strong PSP record significantly lowers the risk of accidents and driver issues. With these strong performance credentials in hand, fleet carriers are optimally equipped to better ensure safety and quality among its drivers.


What Can You Learn From the PSP?


When a company accesses the FMCSA PSP record of a job applicant with that individual’s consent, the file will show descriptions of any FMCSA-reportable crash from the past five years and roadside inspections within the past three years, as previously noted. This includes where and when the event occurred; fatalities, injuries or tow-aways; co-driver involvement; and out-of-service status where applicable.


The data will only display the crashes and inspections where the driver was involved without any indication of who was at fault, nor will a score or point value be assigned. State Motor Vehicle records are not included. This information must be accessed from each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or a similar state agency.


It is recommended that fleet carriers cross-reference information from the applicant’s PSP report with the employment application, MVR, the driver’s history of DOT violations and crashes, and inquiries made to previous employers.  


Note that PSP records are only available for pre-employment, not for reviewing records of the company’s existing drivers.

PSP Blog

How to Enroll


To gain access to the PSP program, enroll on the PSP website at www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov. For fleets with less than 100 power units, the fee is $25 per month, and each PSP pulled from the database costs $10.


For companies with more than 100 power units and for third-party service providers, the monthly fee is $100 while the $10 transaction fee remains the same. Records can be accessed via any major web browser.


As trucking companies continue to struggle with hiring the best drivers amidst worker shortages, the FMCSA PSP program is a useful tool for better equipping them to contend with this challenge.


For more information on FMCSA PSP, contact your insurance agent.



[1] American Trucking Associations, Inc. “Driver Shortage Update 2021,” October 25, 2021.

[2] American Transportation Research Institute. “Understanding the Impact of Nuclear Verdicts on the Trucking Industry,” June 2020.

[3]Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Pre-Employment Screening Program.”

[4] U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Safety Analysis and Industry Impacts of the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP),” October 2013.