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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) decision 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.



An Effectiveness Evaluation Report released in February 2016 by the FMCSA Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation Division determined that between 2008 and 2013, States that fully participate in PRISM compared to non-fully participating States have:

  • 20.4% observable reduction in all CMV crashes
  • 9.8% observable reduction in fatalities involving all CMV crashes
  • 6.9% reduction in State registered CMVs being placed OOS roadside for operating while under a Federal OOS

In terms of lives saved, vehicles registered in States that fully participate in PRISM compared to non-fully participating States experienced the equivalent of 777 lives saved between 2008 and 2013. These results equate to 130 lives saved each year.

The effectiveness evaluation also determined a “significant” number of potential lives could be saved if:

  1. All States fully participate in PRISM
  2. All States performed the registration requirements of PRISM, and
  3. If States expand their PRISM program to include non-IRP or vehicles between 10,001 to 26,000 lbs. regulated by FMCSA



Updated: Monday, April 22, 2019
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