Background and Purpose
The Performance and Registration Information Systems Management (PRISM) program was developed to meet the challenge of reducing the number of commercial vehicle crashes of a rapidly expanding interstate carrier population. It has increased the efficiency and effectiveness of Federal and State safety efforts through a more accurate process for targeting the highest-risk carriers, which allows for a more efficient allocation of scarce resources for compliance reviews and roadside inspections. The PRISM program requires that motor carriers improve their identified safety deficiencies or face progressively more stringent sanctions up to the ultimate sanction of a Federal Out-of-Service order and concurrent State registration suspensions. The PRISM program has proven to be an effective means of motivating motor carriers to improve their compliance and performance deficiencies.
PRISM originated as a pilot project mandated by Congress in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the State of Iowa developed the pilot project. In addition to Iowa, the States of Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota, and Oregon participated in the pilot, which ended in 1997. The pilot demonstrated that State commercial vehicle registration sanctions could be 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, the 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.