PSP vs. MVR: What’s the Difference?

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An essential screening tool that all motor carriers should consider using is the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). PSP can provide additional safety performance information that may not be disclosed by other background screening checks.

The data provided by PSP will depend on how often a particular driver was selected for a roadside inspection or was involved in a DOT reportable crash. There has been some confusion that the PSP report will contain all of the motor vehicle report information (MVR), but this assumption is not correct. Let’s take a minute to review the PSP and how the information it contains differs from that included on MVRs.

What is PSP?

The Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) allows motor carriers to obtain five years of crash data and three years of roadside inspection data on prospective drivers. PSP records may not be used for current employees; they are to be used exclusively for pre-employment screening purposes.

The PSP information is obtained from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), which is the same system which supplies data to the Safety Measurement System (SMS) used to create motor carrier’s CSA scores. However, drivers are not scored in the PSP as they are in the SMS and prospective employers will not obtain a driver’s CSA scores. Not all drivers will have information in PSP. Only those drivers that have had roadside inspections or DOT reportable crashes will have data in PSP.

What information is included in a PSP Report?

  • Driver’s personal information – name, driver’s license number/state of issuance, DOB.
  • Five years of DOT reportable crash data, if there is any. Each accident is summarized including information appearing on the actual crash report: date, state, location, crash report number, carrier name under which the driver operated, and US DOT number under which the event took place. Information also includes statistics about the accidents listed: the total number of crashes, the total number of crashes with fatalities, injuries, tows, and hazmat release.
  • Three years of roadside inspection data, if there is any, including the date, US DOT number and carrier name under which the driver operated, reporting state, report number, level of inspection, if a hazmat inspection was included, and the number of violations cited for that particular roadside inspection. A summary is provided of the driver’s roadside inspection violations by regulation, a description of the violation, the number of times the driver violated this regulation in the past 36 months and the number of times the violation resulted in an out-of-service order.
  • PSP can be a good source for past employer pointers that may not be disclosed on the employment application.


What information is included on an MVR?

  • Driver’s personal information – name, address, license number/state and license descriptors.
  • The MVR identifies the status of an individual’s driver’s license, license type, endorsements (including tank and hazardous materials), restrictions (such as glasses or hearing aids), violations, suspensions, and revocations.
  • Some states may also include some additional information on the MVR, such as driving related convictions and/or accident information.


What are the differences?

  • MVR and PSP records are maintained by different sources. MVR driving records are reported by each State’s Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”, or similar State agency), and there is no national database housing driver records. The FMCSA is responsible for the PSP report. An important point to remember is that the two records are not linked, so the information may not match.
  • A PSP report may include traffic citations or warnings which prompted a roadside inspection but will not include all of the driving record activity. The list of DOT crashes represents a driver’s involvement only, it does not determine responsibility.
  • An MVR will provide the driver’s driving history as reported by a given State’s DMV. PSP reports only contain entries of traffic convictions and warnings related to roadside inspection.
  • Citations, warnings, and tickets yet to be settled in the courts will not appear on an MVR.
  • Use of the PSP in hiring decisions for drivers is not required by regulations. However, it is becoming a fairly common best practice among motor carriers and bus operators.
  • FMCSA regulations require that a three year MVR report be checked within 30 days of hiring and then rechecked annually.


Why obtain a PSP Report?

The FMCSA conducted a safety impact analysis on their PSP program in October 2013. This study showed that transportation companies that used PSP had a 8% decline in crash rates on average over non-participating motor carriers. For mid-size carriers, crash rates declined even more significantly – 20.6% for motor carriers with 6 to 20 drivers, and 12.1% for carriers with 21 to 100 drivers. Out-of-service rates dropped on average 17.2% for motor carriers participating in PSP. Click here to access the full report.

PSP records allow motor carriers to gather data about a driver’s past behaviors and habits. Drivers who have historical records of frequent accidents and violations may continue in this pattern and to know this information up front before hiring a driver may help you avoid a bad hiring decision or enable you to put a proactive training program in place to combat future negative behaviors.

Remember that a PSP report is only one of the many tools an organization should use to determine the qualifications of a driver. The combination of an MVR, DAC Employment History File review, and a PSP can be very insightful, particularly when combined with other screening solutions such as a criminal history check and national sex offender registry check.

PSP Requirements

The motor carrier must obtain the applicant’s written consent prior to making a request for a PSP report and must provide written notice to the applicant that PSP information will be used in the hiring decision process. Originals of the signed consent forms must be retained by the carrier for three years and made available to FMCSA inspectors during an audit.

PSP reports may only be used for pre-employment screening of drivers and cannot be used to monitor performance of current employees. The PSP Monthly Account Holder Agreement, to which motor carriers must agree in order to access the PSP, establishes that the FCRA  applies to information obtained through the PSP and requires, among other things, that (1) an employer who uses PSP information in its decision to not hire an applicant to provide the applicant with a full copy of the PSP information before taking any adverse action on the application for employment; and (2) the employer must inform the applicant that they can dispute incomplete or inaccurate information through the FMCSA DataQs system at (See Monthly Account Holder Agreement pages 6-7 and FCRA Employer Certification pages 13-14).

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The HireRight Blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and is not a substitute for and should not be construed as legal advice. HireRight does not warrant any statements in the HireRight Blog. Any statutes or laws cited herein should be read in their entirety. You should direct to your own experienced legal counsel questions involving your organization’s compliance with or interpretation or application of laws or regulations and any additional legal requirements that may apply.



HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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