As a motor carrier, trailer company, owner/operator, or driver, it’s important to know what a company’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) score is. Used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), the CSA works to maintain safety standards for the trucking industry through a safety accountability system.
Using this system, safety issues are identified, classified, and when needed, addressed through a series of actions that ensure future safety. Events that are tracked include:
- Crash Reports
You may know what the CSA score is, but do you know how to check your CSA score? We’re breaking down the essential facts about CSA scores, how to check them, and what they mean for motor carriers.
Determining Your Company’s CSA Score
There are a number of factors that contribute to CSA scores for trucking companies, and while you can easily access a score with your Department of Transportation (DOT) number, it’s helpful for all stakeholders to know more about what the scores mean.
How to Get a DOT Number and Check Score
Carriers should know what their DOT number is at all times and make owner/operators and drivers aware so they can check when necessary.
If your company doesn’t have a DOT number yet, the first step is to obtain a number. Once a carrier has their number, they can quickly access their DOT CSA scores in one of the following ways:
- Login to the SAFER website for Safety and Fitness Records, and FMSCA for CSA scores
- Email the FMSCA Contact Center
- Call the FMSCA Contact Center at 1-800-832-5660
Motor carriers can get additional safety information that is not available to drivers by logging into the Safety Measurement System (SMS).
Understanding Your CSA Score
A variety of factors contribute to CSA scores for trucking companies. Information is gathered into 7 Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) to help organize different events that constitute potential action. Carriers are grouped by these categories and then given a score between 0 to 100, with a higher score representing poorer performance.
The 7 Elements of BASIC are:
- Unsafe driving: Texting, speeding, hand-held cell usage, reckless driving; Regulation 49 CFR 392, 397
- Crash indicator: Last 2 years recorded, but only available to logged-in motor carrier; Regulation 49 CFR 390.5
- Hours of Service compliance: Checks that drivers are properly rested, awake, alert; Regulation 49 CFR parts 392 and 395
- Vehicle maintenance: Proper maintenance according to Regulation 49 CFR parts 392, 393, 396
- Controlled substance: Checks for failed alcohol test, drug use, prescription misuse; Regulation 49 CFR Parts 382 392
- Hazardous materials: Checks for proper marking, labeling, securing packages, cargo tank testing, loading, leakage; Regulation 49 CFR part 397
- Driver fitness: Checks that drivers are qualified with a record of CDLs, medical, driving records, reviews, applications
Depending on the event, a carrier may simply receive a warning letter, or they may incur fines and investigations. Any events that are recorded do not directly affect the driver, but only the carrier.
While there are no CSA scores for truck drivers, they are subject to the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), which keeps 5-year crash records and 3-year inspection records for drivers.
How Violations and Crashes are Weighted
CSA scores for trucking companies range between 0 to 100, but there are other factors that weight the score. A lower score means fewer events of less severity are recorded, but how does the weighted system work?
In its simplest terms, weight is determined by the time and severity of the event and weighed on a scale of 1 to 10, ten being most severe. The following list shows some factors that contribute to the weight of a CSA score:
- The relationship to crash risk: What is the likelihood of future crashes or violations?
- Crashes ranked lower for events like tow-away, higher for injury/fatality
- Weight added for more recent events: score of 1 for events over 1 year ago, score of 3 for events within last 6 months
- Scores with an Out-of-Service order receive two additional points due to severity.
- Example: Lane change = 5; Reckless driving = 10
- Overall weighted value calculated by:
- Severity weight x time weight = total time and severity weight
- Hazardous materials carriers have lower thresholds
What to Do if You Receive a Warning Letter
Receiving a warning letter can be alarming, but it’s also an opportunity to make improvements before incurring further violations. Letters contain detailed information from the FMSCA about safety performance and compliance problems based on SMS data, and what consequences may result if they are not addressed.
To better understand SMS data, continue to check their system for compliance information. If your company’s SMS data doesn’t improve, there may be additional investigations or other interventions, which can result in a poor DOT CSA score.
Interventions from FMSCA
If interventions from the FMSCA are necessary, they will take place in a manner commiserate with the event that is recorded. The following list shows different forms of intervention:
- Warning letter
- Investigation: offsite, onsite, focused or comprehensive
- Cooperative safety plan
- Notice of Violation
- Notice of Claim, with potential fines assessed
- Settlement Agreement: Negotiations to reduce penalties
- Operations suspended/Unfit: carrier cannot operate the vehicle
Commit to Safety to Avoid Long-Term Consequences
A commitment to safety is important for everyone involved in the logistics process. Regular inspections and routine maintenance by qualified professionals reduce the change of equipment violations and help increase your CSA score.
Hale Trailer Brake and Wheel, Inc. is equally committed to providing the safest trailer rentals and sales, as well as support from trailer experts to help you choose the best trailer equipment and service. To learn more, contact us or visit one of our 12 trailer rental locations.
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