Being subject to DOT inspections can cost a business a lot of money in lost time and fines. It is important to check scores, as they are an indicator of the type of companies the FMCSA will target, as they believe them to be unsafe. They are also a guide to where a carrier needs to make improvements in their safety and compliance.
As a carrier’s safety scores are publicly available, a company can be scrutinized by entities other than law enforcement. Having poor scores reflects in the cost of insurance a company will be offered. It can also result in loss of business as brokers and freight-forwarders can look at safety performance and choose not to use a company based on their scores. There is ongoing debate about the value of making these scores public, so keep an eye out for changes down the road.
Each BASIC has an intervention threshold limit; carriers with scores above these limits are the carriers the FMCSA are trying to focus on. Companies failing to make improvements in their safety and compliance will always have scores above these thresholds and they’ll find themselves subjected to interventions.
At the lowest level, interventions could start with warning letters alerting carriers of problems they need to fix along with the consequences of not improving them. Even when just receiving a warning letter, a carrier can expect to be targeted for more roadside inspections.
Beyond warning letters, carriers failing to improve, can expect safety investigations to be conducted. Off-site investigations involve the carrier submitting documents to the investigators for review. An on-site investigation may focus on just one BASIC or be fully comprehensive investigation. Not only can these investigations be aggravation to the company they are also disruptive, time consuming and costly.
Of course, if you keep getting more inspections and don’t take any initiative to improve, the inspections will reveal more problems. This will make your score worse and… You can see that it is a bit of a downward spiral.
Unfortunately, some companies still fail to understand the true cost of safety until it is too late. Although, it is impossible to put a price on a human life, the consequences of a tragic accident far outweigh the costs of been proactive in preventing such tragedies. Safety and compliance is always something that pays for itself.
Having good CSA scores in each basic reduces overall involvement with the DOT, allowing carriers to get on with their day-to-day operations. By keeping good scores, they can greatly reduce fines and expect a lot less frequent or time-consuming roadside inspections.
CSA scores are one thing that many fleet owners try to maintain, but often find difficult. Drivers, for any carrier, represent the public face of the company and most of the BASIC categories relate to driver performance. It makes sense then, that a comprehensive driver training and hiring processes is one key towards lowering CSA scores. Properly trained drivers should have a good understanding of regulations as well know their role in a company’s safety and compliance program.
It’s also important to note that drivers have their own Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) scores that are incorrectly known as driver CSA scores. They aren’t publicly available, but can be requested and are often checked as part of a hiring process.