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Quick Read: CSA Scores and What They Mean

CSA stands for Compliance, Safety, Accountability, and is an FMCSA initiative that was introduced to improve the overall safety of commercial motor vehicles.

But why does CSA matter?

Based on carrier performance and driven by the data collected on them, it is a safety enforcement program meant to allow the FMCSA to put a more intense focus on companies that pose the highest safety risks on the roads.

The ultimate goal of the CSA program is to make the roads safer for both carriers and the public. To achieve this, both motor carriers and drivers are held accountable for their role in safety. Through compliance with safety rules, motor carriers and drivers should be able to identify and rectify potential safety concerns before they cause harm.

How CSA scores are calculated

A company’s safety data is collected from roadside inspections, crash reports, investigation results and registration details. All this data is then made available on the FMCSA’s Safety Management System (SMS) website, which is updated on a monthly basis.

The SMS takes into consideration the amount, severity and date of any violations, inspections or crashes a carrier has been involved in. There is more weight given to violations that are more recent, and after two years violations are removed from the record. Also, crashes are weighted based on severity, so a crash involving a fatality or injury has more impact on your score than one that just required a tow.

This data is broken down into seven different categories. These categories are called Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) and they cover:

  • Unsafe Driving – Dangerous or careless operation of a vehicle including unsafe driving practices like speeding, improper land changes and failure to wear a seat belt
  • Crash Indicator – History of crash involvement based on state-reported crashes (not publicly available)
  • Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance – Incidents of vehicle operation by drivers who are ill, fatigued or in noncompliance with HOS regulations including driver log violations
  • Vehicle Maintenance – Mechanical defects and failure to make required repairs as well as improper load securing
  • Controlled Substance/Alcohol – Impaired driving through the use of alcohol, illegal drugs and misuse over the counter and prescription drugs
  • Hazardous Materials Compliance – Unsafe or incorrect handling of hazardous materials including leaking containers, improper placarding and missing shipping papers (not publicly available)
  • Driver Fitness – Vehicles operated by drivers who are unfit due to lack of training, experience or medical conditions

With this data categorized, the SMS then groups carriers, with the same range of safety events, together by each BASIC. It will rank all carriers and assign them a percentile from 0 – 100. Carriers are then prioritized for interventions based on how they performed, with the highest percentiles being the worse scores. Improving scores in any of the BASICs comes from new inspections that are violation free.

CSA scores are also made publicly available, however, the public do not have access to the Crash Indicator or Hazardous Materials Compliance BASICs.


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