Background and Purpose
The Performance and Registration Information Systems Management (PRISM) program is a key component to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) mission to reduce the number of commercial motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities in a rapidly expanding interstate motor carrier population.
PRISM provides States a safety mechanism to identify and immobilize motor carriers with serious safety deficiencies and hold them accountable through registration and law enforcement sanctions. FMCSA defines a “motor carrier with serious safety deficiencies” within the scope of PRISM, as a motor carrier that’s prohibited from operating by FMCSA through the issuance of a Federal Out-of-Service (OOS) Order. The PRISM program requires motor carriers to correct their safety deficiencies to continue operating or face progressively stringent sanctions. States that fully participate in the PRISM program compared to States that don’t, have an observable reduction in crashes and fatalities.
PRISM originated as a pilot program mandated by Congress in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. The pilot demonstrated that State commercial vehicle registration sanctions is a powerful enforcement tool in Federal and State motor carrier safety improvement efforts. Congress authorized funding through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), P.L. 105-178 (1998) to expand PRISM nationally. The Safe Accountable Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy of Users (SAFETEA-LU), P.L. 109-59 (2005) established statutory requirements for States to participate in PRISM and added a PRISM grant program. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), P.L. 112-141 (2012) further authorized PRISM funding for fiscal years 2013-2014.
In December 2015, Section 5101 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act made participation in the PRISM program a requirement of the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP). Congress required that MCSAP grant recipients must “fully participate” in PRISM, or demonstrate participation in an FMCSA-approved acceptable “alternative approach for identifying and immobilizing a motor carrier with serious safety deficiencies in a manner that provides an equivalent level of safety,” no later than October 1, 2020. The FAST Act also consolidated multiple separate grant programs, including PRISM, under the MCSAP and High Priority (HP) grant programs.
PRISM saves lives. States that fully participate in PRISM have an observable reduction in commercial vehicle related crashes and fatalities.
In 2019, over 5000 motor carriers with serious safety deficiencies were issued a Federal OOS order that required registration sanctions. PRISM State registration agencies suspended 27,905 vehicle registrations of these motor carriers.