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CSA Scores Impact on Truck Drivers & Fleet Managers

According to the US Census, there were more than 3.5 million truck drivers working in the US just two years ago. While the current driver shortage indicates that this number has likely decreased in the time since the report, there are still millions of truckers sharing American roads with school buses, public transit buses, motorcycles, RV’s, and over 200 million motorists.

In response to the need for safe highways, Congress established the Department of Transportation in 1967. In turn, the DOT established the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration on January 1, 2000. The mission of the FMCSA is “to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.” The FMCSA says that, “an important step in achieving the mission is to identify unsafe motor carriers and prioritize FMCSA enforcement resources on those that pose the greatest safety risk.” This is accomplished in part through the Safety Management System (SMS) and Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores.

What is a CSA Score?

CSA scores are a data-driven program of the FMSCA with the stated goal of preventing fatal crashes involving commercial motor vehicles (CMV’s) – trucks and buses. The program seeks to accomplish this goal through three components:
gathering data through a Safety Measurement System (SMS);
providing interventions when necessary and appropriate; and
the Safety Fitness Determination System (SFD), which is used to assist FMCSA in identifying dangerous drivers and removing them from the road.

When driving for a fleet, any CSA violations that a driver occurs are assigned to the fleet’s DOT number.

What are the 7 CSA BASICs?

The FMSCA organizes the information collected by the SMS into seven critical areas for compliance. These are known as Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs):

Unsafe Driving: This can include behaviors such as speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change, hand-held cell phone use for calling or texting, and lack of focus.
Crash Indicator*: State officials report CMV crashes to the FMCSA if an injury or fatality results or if the vehicle involved must be transported from the scene. When a crash is reported, FMCSA keeps this information on file for two years.
Hours of Service Compliance: FMCSA records this information to ensure that drivers are well-rested, alert, and able to respond to road conditions appropriately.
Vehicle Maintenance: Compliance with regulations around pre- and post-trip inspections, problems, and repairs is collected.
Controlled Substances/Alcohol: This includes the collection of data around impaired driving related to the use of alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medications. Of note, it is illegal to have any alcohol in the cab of a truck, even a closed container.
Hazardous Materials Compliance*: FMCSA is interested in information regarding the loading/unloading and transporting of hazardous materials, as well as the condition of the drivers and vehicles involved.
Driver Fitness: This BASIC examines all of a driver’s records, including licensing, employment applications, driving records, state reviews, and medical certificates.

*This information is not available to the public. It can only be seen by law enforcement officials and by carriers logging into the system to view their own profiles.

Are you ready to learn more? Talk to a Fleet Advisor today.

What is a good CSA Score?

BASIC violations and their respective scores are made available by the FMCSA in its Methodology Document.

BASIC violations are ranked on a score of 1-100, with 100 being the highest. A higher score is worse than a lower one. Reckless driving, use of a hand-held cell phone, and possession of drugs are all 10-point violations; smaller transgressions such as improper lane change or log violations might carry as few as five points.

Many factors are considered when assigning points including the severity of an accident or issue and the frequency with which violations have occurred. An accident involving a fatality or will be assigned more points than one in which no one was hurt. Violations involving hazardous materials are dealt with more harshly than others. Repeat violations in a brief period of time can have their points multiplied by a factor of two or even three. For example, driving at more than 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit is a ten-point violation but another citation within six months can carry a 30-point penalty.

How many CSA points is bad?

The higher the CSA score, the worse it is for drivers, fleet managers, and business owners. While there is no specific threshold for a “bad” number, a high score can put a fleet out of commission.

Can I improve my CSA score?

The FMCSA offers a Driver Resource Center to assist drivers in understanding more about the CSA program and how they can maintain compliance. As with so many things, prevention is key. Drivers can reduce the likelihood of accruing CSA points by avoiding any activities that lead to danger for themselves and others. Follow the rules of the road. Be mindful of your brake use. Invest in a hands-free headset for your cell phone. Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Fleet owners and managers must ensure that their trucks are in good condition. Focus on lights and tires, both of which are a common source of citations. If you or one of your drivers receives a citation, consider challenging it. Many carriers are found not guilty of a citation after review and points are removed from their records.

How can I check my CSA Score?

Carriers’ CSA scores are updated monthly. You can check your CSA score at the DOT website. You’ll need your DOT or Motor Carrier (MC) number and you’ll have to sign up for a PIN.

How do CSA scores impact drivers and others?

Low CSA scores can lead to FMCSA interventions including warning letters; targeted roadside inspections; and investigations including offsite investigations, focused onsite investigations to look at specific issues; and comprehensive onsite investigations at which Safety Investigators examine the entire safety operation at a business. Depending on what investigators discover, they can trigger further interventions ranging from the mild (written warning) to the severe (civil penalties or even an Operation Out of Service Order).

Further, while overall CSA scores are not accessible, BASIC scores are available to any member of the public with access to a business’s DOT number. Low BASIC scores are critical to your bottom line as this information can affect the choice of carrier.

If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs for your business, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.

Sources:

https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/what-is-csa-factsheet.pdf
https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/06/america-keeps-on-trucking.html
https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/about-us
https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/About
https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/SMSMethodology.pdf
https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/YourRole/Drivers

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