You’ve probably already heard of the PSP, and how your score can affect your employability within the trucking industry.
But just what is the pre-employment screening and how does it affect you? Does that fender-bender you had on that rain-slicked road when you were 17 mean that you can’t get a CDL? Does that speeding ticket, then the ticket for making an accidental illegal right turn on red at an intersection between 1 pm and 6 pm mean that trucking companies won’t touch you with a 10-foot pole?
If you are really hoping to land some of those truck driving jobs, you need to be educated about the PSP, what it means for your trucking career (before it even starts) and what you can do to keep it under control. Here are some frequently asked questions about the PSP and how it affects you as a truck driver.
- What is the PSP?
The Pre-Employment Screening is a program that was established in 2010 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), designed to give carriers, industry members, and others (i.e. drivers themselves) to review and examine the driving records of the people to whom they are considering extending employment offers.
- What is in the PSP?
PSP data includes the most recent five years of crash data and the most recent three years of roadside inspection data. This data is housed in the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), a database maintained by FMCSA.
- Why is the PSP important to employers?
Consider the PSP something akin to a background or reference check on you. For carriers, it’s a new way to check in on the people they are entrusting their expensive trucks and even more valuable cargo onto.
- What does the PSP mean for me as I apply for trucking jobs?
Obviously, carriers are looking for people with the best driving records, and will avoid job candidates with a history of a lot of accidents, negative encounters with the traffic cop, or both. Also, it may be a solid way for carriers to see how much it will cost to insure you. If you have a long history of traffic tickets/reckless driving citations, or have had 4 accidents in the past 5 years, you probably already know your insurance has gone up. That works the same for trucking companies.
- Do all trucking companies use the PSP? Is it required?
The PSP is a voluntary program for both drivers and carriers. Some companies may not have made the shift to include PSP data in their hiring process, but after 5 years of being easily available that may say more about whether you want to work for them than whether they will hire you. While it isn’t mandatory by law to submit to a PSP check, your employer may require it before hiring you.
- How do carriers get access to my PSP? Can I block them from seeing it?
Motor Carriers can get an account in order to be granted access to PSP’s data online. However, it is required for carriers to receive consent from any driver whose information they access. That means that indeed if you don’t want someone to see your PSP score, you can legally block them. However, if you are hoping to actually land employment with that company, it probably isn’t a good idea to deny them permission to access it.
- Can I see my PSP?
Of course! You can request a copy from the FMCSA’s PSP web portal, though there is a $10 fee, and you must have both your current, and any other driver’s license numbers you have had over the past 5 years. Alternatively, you may make a Privacy Act request to the FMCSA to receive a free copy, though it may take longer for you to receive. It is of course a good idea to review your PSP periodically to ensure it is accurate and current.