What are Carriers Seeing on Your PSP Report?

When Martin Jez started exploring his options for leasing to a carrier, he was in for a surprise. A recruiter told him his CSA score was about 300 and that he’d been denied a lease because of it.

Jez’s business partner, also his wife, tracked down his Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) report which showed only four inspections and no crashes. Their company, Jez Trucking, had only one out-of-service incident, and its carrier profile in the CSA Safety Measurement System showed no percentile ranking (or “score”) in any of the five public Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).

Altogether, on the surface, there was nothing to explain the high CSA score.

As the Jezes attempted to find the source of the discrepancy, Martin was making progress on arrangements with a potential lessor, one that takes a different view of the PSP.

“That carrier, Texas-based RoadMasters Transport, Jez felt was more suited to the reality that an incoming driver’s prior violations don’t contribute to the new carrier’s CSA score,” according to this article on OverdriveOnline.com.

The article also explains that the root of the problem appears to be a matter of how FMCSA weights more recent violations. In any case, Jez’s knowledge of the problem made it possible for him to better explain his situation to prospective carriers.

It’s a cautionary tale for any driver exploring new opportunities: know your record and be able to defend any anomalies.

How to Check Your PSP Record

Every commercial driver has a PSP record. If you check yours and find information that’s inaccurate, you can contest the data by visiting FMCSA’s DataQs online system.

Also, if a carrier cites your PSP record as the reason you’re not being hired, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to a free copy from that carrier.

There are two ways to get your record:

1. For $10 through FMCSA’s DataQs system

2. Through a DOT Privacy Act request. This is free, but more of a hassle:

Send a written request via fax (202) 385-2335, email at foia@fmcsa.dot.gov, or snail mail: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Office of Information Management, MC-RIS, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, D. C. 20590.

Include your name, address and telephone number and specify you are looking for FMCSA Pre-Employment Screening Program data that is linked to your CDL, and include the number and licensing state.

Make explicit you are requesting the information under the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act.

Also, be aware that carriers access info about your record via a variety of data aggregators. You can see that list and where to appeal mistakes here.

Tips for Maintaining Your PSP Record

A big part of Jez’s problem came from having recent and heavily-weighted violations. Be smart by focusing your efforts to avoid violations that red flag your carrier and prompt a visit from the DOT, the ones that fall under “Unsafe Driving” and “Fatigued Driving.” These are two of the seven BASICs, the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories.

The other categories are driver fitness, alcohol and drugs, vehicle maintenance, cargo securement, and crash history. When you receive an inspection, the officer evaluates you based on these categories. Each one generates a separate score and these are combined as your CSA score.

In this article, TeamRunSmart.com gives you the whole rundown on the BASICs and the six different kinds of inspections you need to be ready for.

The Kind of DOT Attention You Don’t Want

Small things like a flapping tarp or broken light are the kind of minor infractions that catch the eye of officers. Take a close look at your rig every day to make sure you don’t give inspectors an excuse to call you over.

On Roadtrucker forum, Enid Neel of BigSemiTrucks.com says he “knows an officer who would pull guys in if their dash was cluttered. He figured if you were throwing junk on the dash, you might be careless in other areas too.”

Update Your Motor Carrier Form MCS-150

Part of how your CSA score is calculated depends on how many trucks you have and how many miles you run, information collected by the MCS-150. Info on this form also allows the FMCSA to connect you with your record in its databases, so another reason to submit this is to make sure they have your current e-mail and snail mail addresses.

The Seat Belt Gotcha

One of the most easily avoidable violations is failing to wear your seat belt. Don’t unbuckle it until the officer has arrived at your window and has asked for your paperwork. It’s a 7-point violation if you remove your belt before the officer sees that you were in fact wearing it, especially if your engine is still running.

Protect Your CSA Score

Wayne Schooling on TenFourMagazine.com recommends some homework for truckers who want to protect their CSA score: First, get a pocket version of the DOT regulations. Also, understand how the FMCSA assesses points under CSA.

And since every inspection affects your score, keep copies of all your inspection reports. Finally, join an association. “Every driver should have someone to turn to,” he says, “such as the NTA, to get the help they need.”

Inform Yourself About CSA Scores and the PSP

JJ Keller’s FAQs about the CSA. Find dozens of detailed answers to questions about violations and scoring, how FMCSA uses your data, who’s affected by the legislation and how, what triggers an intervention, etc.

What Truckers Need to Know about CSA and Insurance. An interview with trucking insurance experts Rusty Vollmer and Charles Clowers.

Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) explains how to enroll in the PSP.

This article, “Inconsistent Enforcement: CSA’s Heat Index”,  includes a map of the states that are the toughest and weakest on truck and driver inspections. It’s part of a year-long series Overdrive published on the CSA and includes a dozen articles about the law and what drivers and carriers should look out for.

Commercial Carrier Journal and Overdrive Magazine published an in-depth series on the DOT’s CSA program that analyzes two full years’ worth of data. You can access that info here: http://www.ccjdigital.com/csa-data-trail