Monday, October 28, 2013

What is the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP)?

Have you ever heard of the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP)? The PSP is a driver screening tool that allows motor carriers and individual drivers to purchase DOT roadside inspection records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). Records are available 24 hours a day via the PSP website:
A record purchased through the PSP for an individual driver contains the most recent five years of DOT Recordable crash data regardless of driver fault (crash involving a human fatality; disabling damage to any motor vehicle requiring a tow away; or bodily injury with immediate medical treatment away from the scene) and the most recent three years of DOT roadside inspection data (citations and/or warnings for unsafe driving violations; hours-of-service violations; driver fitness violations; drug/alcohol violations; vehicle maintenance violations; hazardous materials violations).
Motor carriers are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to obtain each driver’s Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) prior to hire and are recommended to request PSP records for the purpose of conducting more thorough pre-employment screening. Motor carriers must receive an applicant’s written consent prior to obtaining the PSP.

Individual drivers may purchase their own PSP record at any time, for a fee of $10. You can do so by visiting

The FMCSA believes that making this driver data available to motor carriers will help them make more informed decisions when hiring commercial motor vehicle drivers. Motor carriers now have full access to a driver’s safety performance from roadside inspections and DOT Recordable accident involvement, holding drivers more accountable for their actions than ever before. In addition, motor carriers can verify if drivers are falsifying their employment applications by not listing previous employers that are listed on the PSP.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Set for Oct 20-26

 During the week of Oct. 20-26, 2013, law enforcement agencies across North America will engage in stepped up traffic safety enforcement aimed at unsafe driving behaviors, particularly distracted driving by both commercial motor vehicle and passenger vehicle drivers, as part of Operation Safe Driver.

The program is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and support from a number of other organizations.

Last year during this week-long mobilization effort, law enforcement officials engaged with more than 40,000 commercial and passenger vehicle drivers at 1,245 locations across the United States and Canada. This year’s enforcement blitz will be comparable.

Nearly 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 others are injured in large truck and bus crashes each year on the highways, according to CVSA. Many are the direct consequence of aggressive and unsafe driving by truck and bus drivers, as well as the passenger car drivers operating unsafely around them. This fatality figure equates to more deaths than a 737 airplane crashing every two weeks for a year.

Operation Safe Driver was launched in 2007 by CVSA, in partnership with the FMCSA, to address the problem of improving the behavior of all drivers operating in an unsafe manner—either by, or around, commercial vehicles—and to initiate educational and enforcement strategies to address those exhibiting high risk behaviors.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Approaching the truck, note it’s general appearance: does it lean to one side (suspension problems); is there any apparent body damage; are there any puddles of fluid on the ground underneath? If any of these things are seen, investigate more closely to find the cause of the problem.

A walkaround inspection of the following items is required to complete the inspection (a flashlight, gloves, and a rag or paper towel may be necessary to complete the walkaround inspection):

Front of the truck

  1. Lights-lenses clean and clear, no burned out bulbs
  2. Windshield-no cracks, clean, not obstructed
  3. Windshield wipers-good rubber, proper spring tension
  4. Grill opening not obstructed
  5. License plate on and current
  6. Engine compartment
  7. All fluid levels-oil, coolant, power steering fluid
  8. Drive belts
  9. No leaks of oil, coolant, or other fluids
  10. All hoses and air lines-no damage or leaks
  11. Frame and driveline
  12. Frame-no cracks, no missing bolts
  13. Driveshaft-not damaged, u-joints not loose
  14. Catwalk secure and safe
  15. Fuel tanks and lines-secure, no damage, no leaks, cap secure, water separator drained
  16. Air tanks-secure, not damaged, no air leaks, moisture drained


  1. Suspension-no broken or cracked springs, loose hangers, missing leaves
  2. Brakes-no air leaks, no damaged or leaking lines, proper adjustment, adequate lining, drum not damaged
  3. Wheels-not bent or cracked, lug nuts tight
  4. Tires-adequate tread depth in all major grooves, no cuts in tread or sidewalls, proper air pressure
  5. Hubs-no leaks of oil or grease, proper oil level in oil seals


  1. Fifth wheel-not loose or damaged, tightly mounted
  2. Locking lever-locked in position, will release properly
  3. Locking jaws-locked in place around kingpin
  4. Sliding fifth wheel-proper position, locked in place

Back of tractor

  1. Air lines-good connections, no damage to lines
  2. Electrical line-not damaged, tightly connected
  3. Reflectors in place, not damaged
  4. Lights-all working, lenses clear and clean


  1. Air lines-tightly hooked, glad hand rubbers in place, not dragging or rubbing
  2. Electrical line-tightly connected, no damage, not dragging or rubbing
  3. No body damage
  4. No frame or crossmember damage
  5. Axles and brakes checked as on tractor
  6. Lights in place and working
  7. Load-properly secured and protected
  8. ICC bumper secure and at right height
  9. Mud flaps in place and at right height
  10. Landing gear-secure, no damage, properly retracted, crank handle secured
  11. License plate on and secure

In Cab Checks

  1. Steps and grab handles-secure and clean
  2. Doors-secure and operate properly
  3. Emergency equipment-3 safety triangles, properly charged and secured fire extinguisher, spare fuses if truck is so equipped
  4. Mirrors-secure, clean, properly adjusted, not broken or clouded, mirror heat working
  5. Horns-working
  6. Engine Start Checks
  7. All gauges functioning properly
  8. Oil pressure and coolant temperature rise to normal pressures
  9. Air pressure rising, and low air warning on, if pressure is below normal range
  10. 4-point air brake check-air governor cutoff, air loss under full brake application, low air warning system, automatic spring brake activation
  11. Parking brake-holds truck when pulled against in first gear
  12. Steering play-no more than 10 degrees of movement at steering wheel rim before wheels start to turn
  13. Heater and defroster working properly
  14. Seat properly adjusted
  15. Seatbelt in working order, and on, when truck is in motion
  16. All gear in cab, and sleeper, secured and not blocking vision or controls

If any defective item is found, report it immediately so it can be repaired.

If you are not checking all of these items in your pre-trip inspection, you are writing yourself a ticket. More importantly, you are operating a vehicle that is not safe.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sideswipe/Lane Change Accidents

There are many types of hazards that a semi-driver must identify on a daily basis. Two of the most serious and severe driving hazards are those caused by drivers making abrupt lane changes or improper lane usage. There are many reasons why drivers enter into the wrong lane or make abrupt lane shifts but as a defensive driver, we must learn how to identify areas where increased risks for these types of accidents occur. In 88% of opposite direction sideswipe accidents, the passenger vehicle was the striking vehicle and in 72% of the same direction sideswipe accidents, the passenger vehicle was the striking vehicle. According to this information, we need to develop the skills to prevent ourselves from becoming involved in a lane change/sideswipe accident whether the other driver strikes you or you are found at fault.

Lane changing accidents happen when you are unable to see clearly around your vehicle and sideswipe other vehicles while changing lanes. As a rule, you should keep your vehicle in the far right lane of a multiple lane highway. But there are times when you may choose to change lanes -- to overtake extremely slow moving vehicles or to enter or exit the highway. When you do change lanes, it must be done safely. The risk of a sideswipe or lane change accident goes up every time it is necessary for you to change lanes.

Remember, if you are found to be at fault for a sideswipe or lane change accident, it will be considered a preventable accident.


What are some common reasons for a driver causing a lane change accident to occur?

  • Not checking and rechecking the mirrors to ensure that there is proper clearance.
  • Not properly using the turn signal.
  • Using the turn signal but the maneuver happens as the signal is turned on.
  • Not shifting lanes and allowing other drivers to enter the roadway (i.e. from on-ramp).
  • Having a blown or broken turn lamp on the vehicle.
  • Fatigue.
  • Inexperience or unfamiliarity with roadway.
  • Distraction.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
What are some common reasons for drivers to drift or enter into the opposite lane?

  • Poor visibility – accidents occur when a driver cannot see the markings on the roadway due to adverse weather conditions such as fog, rain, snow, sun in eyes, or ice.
  • Roadway obstruction – accidents occur when a driver must shift lanes due to an obstruction such as a parked vehicle or construction equipment.
  • Traveling too fast – accidents are caused by poor judgment and improper speed control (not following posted limits) usually around tight curves or corners.
  • Narrow lanes – accidents occur because drivers have minimal room for error/control in these areas.
  • Driver distraction – accidents occur because of the reduced visualization when taking one’s eyes off of the road. Example: Dropping an item on the floorboard and reaching to pick it up, typing a satellite message, talking on a cellular phone, lighting a cigarette, turning the channel on the radio, etc.
  • Improper passing – when a driver must enter into the opposite lane in order to pass a slower moving vehicle without ensuring adequate passing power and sufficient distancing.

 Here are some points to remember when using the Interstate System or any multi-lane roadway with  limited access.
1.       Properly adjust your mirrors during your pre-trip inspection. Use a mirror check station if possible.

2.       When entering a multi-lane highway, blend in, MERGE, don't use your size and weight to "bully" your way into traffic.

3.       When driving on multi-lane roads ALWAYS use your turn signals before you change lanes. Flash your turn signal at least three times before moving the steering wheel to change lanes.

4.       Whenever possible drive in the right-hand lane except when passing. After completing a passing move, make certain that you see the vehicle you just passed in your right mirror and to the rear of your vehicle before returning to the right lane.

5.       Be especially alert when passing the entrance to a controlled access highway. A vehicle entering the highway on your right may not be seen and if you attempt a lane change an accident could result.

6.       Keep your eyes moving from the front, to the right mirror, back to the front, to the left mirror, back to the front, and so on. If there was a vehicle behind you in the right lane and it's no longer there, find our where it went before attempting any lane change. If you are in the left lane, chances are that vehicle is attempting to pass you to the right and is now sitting at your passenger door.