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November 21, 2023

The BASICs of CSA Scores

a close up of a sign Author : Hermann Services

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a part of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) that oversees the regulation of the trucking industry.

A compliance, safety, and accountability (CSA) score is part of their enforcement programs that, “holds operators and motor carriers accountable for their safety behind the wheel,” according to FreightWaves.

The point system for CSA scores is based on a 0% to 100% scale with 0% indicating the best performance and 100% the worst, and different violations carry different points. Thankfully, CSA scores are not permanent, and understanding what is taken into consideration when it comes to your score can help you improve it. According to FMCSA, your CSA score is calculated by seven different Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASIC):

  • Unsafe Driving – includes improper lane change, speeding, and recklessness.
  • HOS (hours of service) Compliance – noncompliance with regulations including logbooks.
  • Crash Indicator – history of crash involvement.
  • Driver Fitness – medically unfit to operate a CMV, invalid license.
  • Hazardous Materials Compliance – leaking containers, improper packaging, and/or placarding.
  • Controlled Substances – use/possession of controlled substances/alcohol.
  • Vehicle Maintenance – brakes, lights, defects, failure to make required repairs.

After taking all the above aspects into consideration, the FMCSA will keep the safety record for each carrier in its Safety Measurement System (SMS). The SMS updates monthly and it identifies motor carriers with safety issues to prioritize them for warning letters and investigations. Maintaining a low CSA score can provide a multitude of benefits like lower annual insurance premiums, for example. Since a CSA score is for carriers and not individual drivers, it can also aid in

driver recruitment efforts as well as sway customer preferences in your favor. CSA scores are public information, except for crash indicators and Hazardous Materials compliance. This means brokers can look up the CSA scores of carriers before working with a carrier to ensure they are safe.

“Hermann Transportation monitors our CSA scores very closely,” said Richard Hermann, Director of Safety and Compliance. “It’s important to maintain acceptable scores as our customers demand their freight is hauled by a safe carrier with continuous improvement at the forefront of a solid safety program. Along with CSA data, Hermann analyzes information from many different data sets, including dash cameras, ECM analytics, and ELD’s to name a few,” he continued. “We don’t just do it to be compliant, we do it because it’s safe and right.”

At least twice a year, Hermann Services hosts safety meetings for all our drivers at both our Northeast and Southeast locations. At these meetings, we review how to prepare for roadside inspections and general safety tips. These meetings are a great time to reinforce our safety standards, answer any questions our drivers have, and ensure that safety remains a top priority for all associates.

CSA is not meant to have a negative effect on your safety records due to one violation, the program averages out violations. According to FleetMaintenance, inspectors assess based on things like the number and severity of safety violations, timing of the violations, number of investigations, and more. You will not receive a warning letter or investigation after one incident, your score would have to go over the threshold and remain over for more than a month or two. The goal of CSA scores is to enforce safety and reduce the risk of crashes, not to simply punish carriers for their violations out of the blue. Violations are brought to the carrier’s attention to be fixed and to help ensure the safety of their drivers and everyone else on the road.

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The Department of Transportation building

graphical user interface

Omnitracs safety-monitoring device

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