White Melton truck in front of a sunset

Trucking Safety and CSA Scores: Keeping our Roads Safe

In the trucking industry, safety is the top priority. Drive recklessly, let repairs lapse, or cause a collision, and you’re held accountable. The things you do, or don’t do, can affect CSA Scores. The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program tracks it all. This Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) safety compliance and enforcement program holds drivers, and motor carriers, accountable for everything road-related.

What is CSA in Trucking?

THe CSA program affects motor carriers by finding those with safety problems and prioritizing them for interventions that take many forms, such as warning letters and investigations. On the other hand, CSA scores affect drivers because their safety performance and compliance affect their safety records and will affect their carrier’s safety record while working for them.

The company safety data appears online in FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS), and is updated once a month with:

  • The number of safety violations and inspections
  • The severity of safety violations or crashes
  • When the safety violations occurred, with recent events weighted more heavily
  • The number of trucks a carrier operates and the number of vehicle miles traveled
  • Acute and critical violations found during investigations

What is a CSA Score?

A CSA score is a numerical indication of how safe a motor carrier’s drivers are. This score will increase as unsafe behaviors are observed. FMCSA organizes the Safety Measurement System (SMS) data into seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) to determine a motor carrier’s safety performance and compliance compared to other carriers. The seven BASICS include:

  • Unsafe driving – including speeding, reckless driving, improper lane changes, no seatbelts
  • Crash indicator – histories of crash involvement (not public)
  • Hours-of-service (HOS) compliance – noncompliance with HOS regulations, including logbooks
  • Vehicle maintenance – brakes, lights, defects, failure to make required repairs
  • Controlled substances/alcohol – use/possession of controlled substances/alcohol
  • Hazard materials compliance – leaking containers, improper packaging and placarding (Not Public)
  • Driver fitness – invalid license, medically unfit to operate a CMV

What is a Good CSA Score?

CSA scores are rated by percentiles from 0 to 100, with 0 being a perfect score and 100 being the worst score you could obtain. Defining one “good” CSA score is difficult, since it is measured by comparing your score to similar fleets – however, the closer to 0, the better.

A Melton truck with an over dimensional flag on the front. It is loaded with construction equipment

When an Intervention is Called For

Violations of any kind adversely affect your company’s SMS results for two years. They may prioritize your company for an FMCSA intervention, ranging from warning letters to complete on-site investigations that could result in an Out-of-Service Order (OOSO) or a change to your safety rating.

A driver’s safety performance and compliance impact their employer’s safety records—and their own. Considering that five million truck drivers share America’s roads and highways with more than 250 million motorists, Compliance, Safety and Accountability should be on everyone’s mind. Looking to become a safer driver? Be sure to check out our blogs about using the SMITH system or how to drive safely in winter weather.

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