What is the trucking ISS?

The trucking world is full of numbers and ratings and safety information that you as a motor carrier need to know about. It can be quite the job to keep it all straight and to understand what it all means. The ISS, or Inspection Selection System, is something you might be wondering about. The FMCSA has a lot of different programs with a lot of different letters. We don’t blame you at all if you find it overwhelming. Anyways, here’s some helpful information about the ISS.

What is the ISS?

The FMCSA’s Inspection Selection System is used to help prioritize motor carriers for safety inspections – it’s used at roadside inspection stations. Basically it gives a recommendation of Inspect, Pass, or Optional. It also gives an ISS inspection value from 1-100 for each entity in the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System. The scores get broken down like this:

  • Inspect (Top priority for a warranted inspection): 75-100
  • Optional (Next level priority for a warranted inspection): 0-74
  • Pass (No inspection needed): 1-49

An inspection is warranted for both the Inspect and Optional level, though the Inspect recommendation is more serious. The ISS prioritizes carriers by assigning inspection recommendations using a carrier’s BASIC percentage values.

We’re going to throw some more letters at you. The BASICs (the SMS) uses the data from the motor carrier’s roadside inspections and the State-reported crashes. (The data comes from the past 24 months, and motor carrier census data is there, too.) Then this is all smooshed together to put a number on safety performance.

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How does the ISS really work?

There are a lot of super complicated algorithms and such that go into this whole thing. Here’s a quick rundown:

Safety Algorithm – This algorithm gives a recommendation based on the inspections if the carrier has enough data to be assigned a percentage in the FMCSA’s SMS.

Insufficient Data Algorithm – This can give recommendations of “Inspect or “Optional”. Basically it assesses all the carriers that weren’t assessed by the Safety Algorithm.

The Out-of-Service Indicator gives the top intervention priority to the carriers that are currently under out of service orders.

How are the priorities broken up within each category?

There is even an “order” of priority within each category. Here’s how it works:


  • Out-of-service carriers
  • High-risk carriers
  • Carriers with multiple BASICs prioritized for intervention (with one or more BASICs best addressed roadside)
  • Carriers with a single HOS compliance BASIC prioritized for intervention


  • Insurance/Other serious violations
  • Carriers with a single BASIC prioritized for intervention that’s best addressed roadside
  • Carriers with Unsafe and Crash Indicator BASICs prioritized for intervention
  • Carriers with single Unsafe or Crash Indicator BASIC prioritized for intervention


All other carriers with enough data to measure. (Carriers without enough data to measure in the SMS or a Serious Violation are prioritized with the aid of the Insufficient Data Algorithm.)

How to find your ISS.

You might be wondering how to even find your ISS. That’s a good question. You can see your score if you log in to your FMCSA Portal account. (You can create one with your DOT Number if you need to.) Or the SMS. Whatever works. If you’re having trouble, you can reach out to the FMCSA for some troubleshooting help.

To tell the truth, this is only the beginning of the story when it comes to the ISS. But at least that gives you the general idea of what it is, what the numbers mean, and where those values come from. The ISS gives the intervention prioritization recommendations: Inspect, Optional, or Pass. Figuring out your ISS score can give you some insight.

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