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Do CSA Scores Matter?

The primary responsibility of every fleet manager is to improve safety. According to a report by the Frost law firm, every year, around 388,000 truck accidents are reported in the USA. 28% of the results in injuries, while 11% are fatal, causing the death of the driver or other person involved. It makes it significant for the Government and the business owner to adopt various measures to reduce the numbers and improve safety. 

For the same purpose, the federal motor carrier safety administration (FMCSA) assigns scores to every business owner and operator throughout America. It is known as a compliance safety accountability program, i.e., CSA scores. 

The CSA score shows how compliant a business is to the safety rules provided by the DoT and FMCSA. It makes drivers and motor carriers accountable for their actions.

But don’t think that it is only a score and won’t impact your business in any way. It has a huge effect on your organization and how it works. Continuous increments in CSA scores can lead to more government intervention and even result in closure. 

To know more about it, read this article till the end. You will know all about CSA scores and how they can impact your business. You will also learn several measures to adopt to improve your CSA scores. 

What Is CSA Score?

CSA stands for compliance, safety, and accountability. It is a safety measurement program that holds a fleet accountable, checks its compliance with the prevailing rules, and ensures that they are following safety measures. 

The main motive of the FMCSA was to improve road safety and decrease the number of accidents by holding the organization responsible for its safety practices. 

The whole CSA program involves three approaches: 

  • Measure
  • Intervene
  • Evaluate

The process starts with the safety measurement system (SMS). It involves inspection, investigations, and reports. Then, necessary intervention is made to highlight and notify the motor carrier with poor scores. Then, there is the safety and fitness determination (SFD) rating system. Remember, not every fleet has to get a score. So if your organization does not get this, you should be thankful. 

How are CSA Scores Measured?

Various factors are considered while calculating your CSA scores. We can divide it into seven categories, i.e., BASICs (Behaviour Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories)

  • Unsafe driving
  • Cash indicator
  • HoS compliance
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Controlled Substances And Alcohol
  • Hazardous Materials Compliance 
  • Driver Fitness

The FMCSA uses SMS (safety measurement system) to determine these factors. 

CSA Score Rules You Must Know

  • The CSA scores depend on the violation of the past 24 months. 
  • Each month, the driver’s and owner-operator’s or carriers’ profile is updated with the violations, if any. 
  • The score lands between 0 and 100 percent. 
  • It only includes violations while driving commercial vehicles and not personal vehicles.
  • Violations related to the vehicle and the driver operating under a carrier’s DOT are assigned to the carrier. While violations about the driver are assigned to the responsible driver’s data. 

How To Check Your CSA Score?

Carriers should check their scores regularly. If they have a low score, they should take action immediately. You can learn where you need to improve if you keep monitoring the scores. Moreover, you can analyze your progress once you implement the solutions for the improvements. You can also share your scores with potential clients once you have improved.

You can check your CSA score from the USDOT website, that is, csa.fmcsa.dot.gov.

STEPS

  • Enter the USDOT number with the PIN on the SMS login page and check your score.
  • You can request the PIN from USDOT if you don’t have one.
  • It usually takes four to seven days for the delivery of the PIN.

CSA Scoring

The FMCSA considers the violation over the past two years, the number of accidents & annual miles driven while calculating the CSA score. It updates your scores once a month on the safety measurement system. 

You have to check the scores regularly to know how you can improve and change your training program. 

Also, remember that every violation of the BASIC category will affect your scores. So you have to be careful and try to avoid them. 

Another interesting fact about the CSA is that you cannot determine how much your score will change by one violation. Why? Because they are percentiles and compared to other carriers. It means your CSA score is also affected by others. 

BASIC Categories That Contribute To CSA Score

Unsafe Driving

The Unsafe Driving BASICs prioritize intervention for dangerous driving behavior. It includes speeding, texting, holding a cell phone, rash driving, improper lane changes, not wearing a seatbelt, and inattentive behavior. The state officer may issue a citation or just a verbal warning.

HoS Compliance

The HoS Compliance BASIC states compliance with the Hours of Service Regulations set by FMCSA. It conveys to the drivers the necessity of staying awake, aware, and responding quickly.

Vehicle Maintenance

The Vehicle Maintenance BASIC includes keeping your vehicle up to the mark to ensure safety on the roads. It requires you to do proper vehicle inspections, find faults, and determine if the automobile is ready for a trip.

Issues like worn tires, improper load securement, faulty brakes, lights, and improper cargo attachment are considered.

Controlled Substance And Alcohol

The controlled substance/alcohol BASIC includes operating a commercial vehicle under the influence of alcohol, misuse of the prescription of over-the-counter medications, and illegal drugs. Its violation also covers failing the alcohol/drug test while driving.

Crash Indicator

The Crash Indicator BASIC identifies patterns of high crash involvement. It looks at the history of previous crashes. It is a “crash” when it involves a collision, fatality, or injury, or requires transportation of the vehicles from the location.

Currently, the Crash Indicator BASIC does not involve a driver’s role in the crash though the crash is reportable. However, the FMCSA is working on incorporating the same in the future.

Hazardous Material Compliance

The Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC addresses special attention to hazardous materials. Materials that require proper packaging, marking, labels, load, placards, well-built containers, etc., need special care. It also involves regulations for the testing tank, attendance, loading/unloading, and leakage.

Driver Fitness

The Driver Fitness BASIC involves checking driving records. It includes driver’s qualifications, CDLs (Commercial Driving Licenses), state driving records, medical certificates, annual reviews, and compliant employment applications.

Violation TypeExamples Points
Unsafe Driving Practices Using phone, reckless driving practices, speeding, or driving under drug influence 10
Vehicle Maintenance (Hazardous Materials)Flat tire, Tire Air Leak, or any other problem with external components 8
Hours of ServiceExceeding the working hours’ limits, not using seat belts, and falsifying log books.7
Vehicle Maintenance Problems with lamps, steering wheel, loading, or smoking while loading or unloading 6
Unsafe Driving Distracted driving 5
Vehicle Maintenance and Unsafe Driving Practices Speeding 6-10 miles per hour, not conducting pre-trip Inspection or brake issue4
Vehicle Maintenance Lack of seatbelt, or emergency equipment 2
Vehicle Maintenance HoS violations, log issues, windshield, and glass scratches1

Impact of CSA Score On Your Business 

If you think the CSA score doesn’t matter, then you are wrong. They matter greatly, and here are a few reasons- why you should focus on improving them by practicing various measures. 

  • The higher score indicates that your organization poses a significant risk of accidents, and their food can lead to more inspections. Continuous intervention out-of-service order violations are not suitable for your business. It will affect your business operations and is not good for your profits, business reputation, and future loads. 
  • Do you know that customers and your clients often check your CSA score before working with you? Yes, this is true. And if you have poor CSA scores, you will probably lose many of them. On the other hand, if you have a low CSA score, you can attract more lucrative opportunities. 
  • A good CSA score can help you to get discounts on your insurance premiums. Similarly, a poor CSA score means high insurance costs.

What is a good CSA score?

The CSA scores are determined on a 0 to 100 percent level. The FMCSA has categorized the score on every level, based on the BASIC’s relationship to crash risk. Higher scores can attract FMCSA investigation.

For example, if your score is more than 65% in Crash Indicator, Unsafe Driving, and HoS, you are subject to an FMCSA investigation. The threshold score for a commercial vehicle carrying hazardous materials is 50%, and for a vehicle carrying passengers is 60%. The remaining categories have an 80% threshold, after which the FMCSA can intervene.

Carriers with good CSA scores can have the following benefits:

  • Lower Insurance Premiums
  • Better Reputation For Business Opportunities
  • Fewer DoT Audits
  • Prevent Roadside Inspections
  • Impacts on Overall Performance And Management

Best Ways To Improve CSA Score

Improving your CSA score may take time though you can increase its probability by clearing more violation-free inspections. The more inspections without violations, the lower the score will be. Here are some tips that may help you improve your CSA score

Reliable And Efficient Electronic Logging Device

An efficient ELD (Electronic Logging Device) lets the manager know about the driver’s location, driving behavior, estimated arrival, etc. assisting in productivity and providing good services. However, an ELD that reports false, inaccurate, or late data can cause you a loss. It may slowly report back to the web portal and create a troublesome situation. Ultimately it would lead to an increase in the CSA score.

For instance – A driver is traveling through a remote area with no cellular connection, not recording the logs at the right time could lead to inaccurate data and the HoS violation. In such a case, they could use an ELD that can work offline and upload the data as soon as it catches the signal.

Thorough DVIR

You can prevent the violations that occur due to imperfectly packed trailers by doing thorough DVIRs. With careful DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Report) inspections, you can not only follow the safety rules that are federally mandated but also increase your chances of improving your CSA score. Regular DVIR assists you in identifying the issues with trucks functioning, lighting, trailer, tires, etc. You can discover all the faults you need to avoid before a journey through a proper inspection.

Strict Recruitment Process

The CSA score depends on your driving skills and behavior. Their inspection reports are critically important. While hiring them, you should check their PSP (Pre-Employment Screening Program) records to know about their safety records.

Proper Training of Drivers

Even if you hire skillful drivers with a good PSP record, give them training and prepare them according to the CSA program. Some of the thresholds are based on aggressive driving. Just like hard braking, ELDs can monitor the aggressive driving of a vehicle. Drivers tend to drive recklessly or speedily when they are running out of time. It not only deteriorates the condition of your CMV but also puts them in danger.

Healthy Drivers

The penalty for driving while unwell is 10 points. It is the same as texting while driving and driving while controlled substances/alcohol. So, make sure that your drivers are in the best of their health and do not have any life-threatening diseases. Healthy and attentive drivers are the epitome of road safety. It is the reason why the FMCSA insists on breaks and rest periods.

Stay Up To Date With Rules And Regulations

The rules and regulations for commercial vehicles or trucking industries keep on updating every year. Your ignorance of the law can cost you your reputation or get you in big trouble. Staying updated with the FMCSA and DoT rules increases the probability of improving your CSA scores. The threshold percentage and points table change every year, so staying up to date will let you keep your score low. Whether you are a truck driver or own a business, being knowledgeable about every update is ultimately beneficial for your business.

Use Modern Tech 

If you use modern technology or gadgets such as software to detect the performance, dash cams, tire air pumps, etc, you can improve the efficiency as well as CSA scores. By regularly monitoring your drivers and vehicles, you will be able to detect the flaws hassle-free. You and your drivers can also exercise the practice of intuitive gadgets in your daily routine so your drivers can handle various situations in any condition. All of this may lead to a better CSA score.

Final Words

Now that you know how a bad CSA score can impact your business, here are some tips to improve it:

  • Never skip your pre-trip or post-trip vehicle inspection. It will help you to detect any faults and resolve them on time. 
  • Your drivers play an essential role in determining your CSA score. Therefore you should be cautious of it from the start, and hire a driver with a good safety record. 
  • You should also invest in scheduling training programs. You can use advanced fleet telematic solutions such as Matrack to overview your fleet performance and check areas where improvement is needed. 
  • You should also implement an effective preventive maintenance program in your fleet to resolve issues on time. 
  • You should use an electronic logging device to comply with ELD rules and prevent HoS violations. 
  • You can also invest in a Matrack Dash Cam that detects distracted driving behavior and notify you. 

These are some measures that you can follow to improve your CSA scores. Also, if you want a comprehensive telematics solution for your fleet, you should check out Matrack. 

Matrack offers various telematics solutions, such as GPS trackers, ELD, AI-enabled dashcams, and fleet management systems at affordable prices. These are powerful solutions that help you streamline every aspect of your fleet and improve safety. 

For more information, check out the Matrack now.