The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented the Performance and Registration Information System Management (PRISM) to reduce the number of crashes, fatalities, and injuries caused by or involving commercial drivers. The primary goal of it is to empower state law enforcement agencies to identify motor carriers with significant safety violations on their driving record. Upon doing so, local law enforcement officials can encourage commercial drivers to take accountability for their actions through sanctions and registration.
Safety in trucking
Under the scope of the PRISM program, the FMCSA defines a driver as unsafe when it has prohibited the driver from operating by issuing an out of service order. Drivers must correct their problem areas under the program if they wish to continue operation. Those who fail to address and correct their deficiencies face increasingly prohibitive sanctions against them. Participation by states in the program is currently voluntary.
Effectiveness rates of the PRISM program
In February 2016, the Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation Division of the FMCSA released the following statistics regarding states that participate in PRISM vs. those that don’t participate in it.
- 6.9 percent reduction in the number of commercial motor vehicles registered in a state receiving an out of service order for driving after having received the same order at the federal level.
- 9.8 percent reduction in fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles.
- 20.4 percent reduction in fatal crashes overall.
The FMCSA estimates that PRISM saved an average of 777 lives for the five-year period of 2008 to 2013. This is the most recent data it has published on the program. The FMCSA also indicated in its 2016 report that it all states participating in PRISM could significantly decrease the number of fatal accidents involving commercial drivers. Additionally, it hopes to eventually see all states meet the registration requirements of the program and expand it to include vehicles weighing between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds and that operate under the authority of the FMCSA.
History of the PRISM program
The history of PRISM dates to 1991 when Congress created a mandatory pilot program called Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. The results of the program indicated that sanctions of commercial vehicle registrations by states served as a powerful tool of enforcement. This was true at both the state and federal levels. Congress expanded PRISM nationally in 1998 under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act requires mandatory participation in PRISM by October 1, 2020 for those involved in the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP). Recipients of the MCSAP grant must demonstrate proof of full participation in PRISM or an approved alternative program.
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