In 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, more commonly known as CSA. This is an enforcement program designed to make both drivers and carriers accountable for their safe driving. The primary objective of CSA is to ensure better safety among all commercial motor vehicles. But how can you check your CSA score?
How Does My CSA Score Work?
Drivers are given points for their safety violations and driving performance across categories referred to as Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).
The seven categories of the BASICs are:
- Unsafe driving
- Crash indicator
- Vehicle maintenance
- Hazardous materials
- Driver fitness
- Hours-of-service compliance
- Controlled substances/alcohol
CSA scores cover mostly carriers of truck fleets, but they are also used in regards to the driver's safety history. Drivers can be given points during a crash, violation, or during a random Department of Transportation (DOT) inspection.
A driver's CSA score chart is recorded in the Safety Measurement System (SMS), which is why CSA scores are also referred to as SMS scores. Drivers' scores are either dropped or added regularly since the SMS undergoes a monthly update.
The SMS also determines which are high-risk motor carriers that are in need of immediate interventions. The SMS then ranks motor carriers to identify trucking companies with the worst CSA score, which will be given priority for interventions.
How Do I Check My CSA Score for Free?
If you want to check your CSA score, you can find it either by:
- Going to the SMS login page and entering the USDOT number and the USDOT number PIN. Those without a PIN yet can request from the USDOT
- Logging in to the FMCSA portal and clicking the SMS link
Is My CSA Score Considered Good?
Since the BASICs are used in computing for the scores, then it follows that a good CSA score is one that has low points for each of the BASIC categories. A violation can raise the CSA score anywhere from 1 to 10 according to the offense. Thus, fewer violations mean a better CSA score.
Carriers should keep in mind that the drivers' scores are often used to determine the fleet's safety as a whole. As such, drivers with good CSA scores are good for the company.
What is a Bad CSA Score for a Driver?
A driver who scores high in each BASIC category has a bad CSA score. Drivers should keep in mind that the overall score of all violations per category should not be higher than 30.
There are plenty of disadvantages to having a bad CSA score. In fact, a carrier can even lose its license if its CSA score is too high. Plus, carriers will have to pay higher for insurance due to a bad CSA score.
Companies should remember that a driver for a fleet uses the carrier's DOT number. This means any violations will be reflected on the carrier as the driver's commercial driving license is not affected by the CSA violations.
How Can I Improve My CSA Score?
There are many steps a carrier can take to prevent having a bad CSA score. Below are some ways of improving CSA scores:
- Doing pre-trip maintenance checks for brakes, broken lights, and debris in anticipation of the random DOT checks
- Checking brakes as well as routine brake adjustments. Fixing the air leaks in the brakes can also reduce the possibility of a four-point violation
- Hiring drivers with clean records
- Ensuring drivers' good physical health so they can drive safely
- Challenging citations as needed since carriers are given two years to challenge a citation
In the end, carriers should pay close attention to their CSA scores, so knowing how to check CSA scores is crucial. After all, having a good score can save a company on insurance costs and prevent it from getting its license suspended. Being well-versed on how CSA works to achieve good scores can help fleet managers identify which performance and maintenance areas can be improved to ensure driver and road safety.