All you need to know about CSA Score & how to improve it, Part 1

Posted by

Karthipriya S

Every year, road accidents claim the lives of hundreds and the responsibility falls upon the carriers and their drivers to ensure on-road safety. To strengthen this mission, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has formulated certain safety metrics, i.e. the CSA Program, based on which carriers can be scored and necessary actions can be taken against the poor performers.

However, understanding the complexities involved in maintaining and improving an ideal CSA score can be rather challenging. Here is a quick guide to understanding CSA scores.

What is a CSA score?

Compliance, Safety, Accountability or CSA is a safety enforcement initiative by the FMCSA that holds both motor carriers and its drivers accountable for the safety of their vehicle, drivers and the public. Based on a complex grading system, the CSA score is derived by analyzing factors such as adherence to safety rules, vehicle performance and driver behavior.

The CSA program collects safety data and assigns a percentile to the carrier. Through the program, FMCSA identifies businesses that are at high safety risk and conducts inspections to rectify unsafe practices. Every violation made by the driver reflects on the carrier’s score, and not to the individual. However, it is the responsibility of both the companies and the drivers to inculcate safety practices and minimize violations.

CSA Score Metrics

The CSA program associates every carrier to its unique DOT number. The CSA score is calculated based on the safety data from roadside inspection, crash reports and investigation details. Every carrier’s safety data is collected and held online in the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS).

The system considers the safety violations based on factors such as:

  • crash severity, number of violations and the date of occurrence.
  • For example, an accident of maximum damage will have more weightage than a couple of minimum-damage accidents.
  • The data is taken from the last 24 months and a percentile is set from zero to 100, with lower percentile depicting good scores.

The SMS data is broken down into seven factors that are collectively termed as Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).

1. Unsafe Driving:
Operating a commercial vehicle without taking safety precautions such as wearing a seatbelt and exhibiting dangerous driving behavior like speeding and sudden lane changing.

2. Driver Fitness:
Commercial vehicles being operated by drivers who are physically unfit or lack the basic driver qualifications and its corresponding documents.

3. Controlled Substances or Alcohol:
Driving under the influence of illegal drugs and alcohol.

4. Crash Indicator:
Historical reports of the number of crashes and its severity based on state-reported crash data.

5. Vehicle Maintenance:
Negligence of vehicle maintenance to resolve issues such as improper load securement, faulty brakes and other mechanical failures.

6. Hours-of-Service Compliance:
Failure to maintain driver logs and hours of service for six months and allowing drivers to operate a commercial vehicle when they are sick or fatigued.

7. Hazardous Material Compliance:
Improper handling of hazardous materials through leaking containers and dispatching shipments without the hazardous warning labels.

Based on the BASIC, the system groups carriers with similar nature of events, ranks the companies and provides a percentile ranging from 0 to 100. The carriers with higher percentile will be subjected to an inspection.

Checking your CSA Score

Companies can check their CSA score on the CSA program website. All the information except for crash indicator reports and hazardous material compliance metrics can be viewed here. Carriers can enter their DOT number and carrier name to view the BASIC score. The complete BASIC report can be viewed by creating a login account in the website.

The importance of maintaining a good CSA Score

It is crucial for carriers to maintain a good CSA score in order to gain the trust of insurance companies and law enforcement. Also, a good CSA score can add credibility to your business which will lead to lower insurance rates and increased business opportunities.

So how do you improve your CSA Score? Find out the effective strategies to rank better and maintain safety standards.