The U.S. sees nearly 100,000 dangerous crashes involving large trucks every year. For logistics professionals, compliance, safety and accountability are always top of mind as we seek to create safer roads for shippers and everyday drivers alike. That’s where the CSA program comes in.
Here’s everything you need to know about CSA and the industry’s efforts to uphold safe shipping practices.
What is the CSA program?
With the goal of improving road safety in mind, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) started the CSA program in 2010. The CSA, or compliance, safety and accountability program, was created to “ensure the safety of vehicles on the road while reducing the number of fatal crashes that occur.”
Using this program, the FMCSA has helped owners and drivers contribute to the safety of our roads by maintaining a stable score, eliminating roadside violations and ensuring smoother, safer deliveries. In its first year, roadside violations per inspection declined by 8% while driver violations declined by 10%. Road safety has improved every year since.
What is a good CSA Score?
CSA scores range from 0 to 100, with lower scores representing stricter adherence to safety procedures (lower is better). If a score is greater than 65 in unsafe driving, crash indicator or HOS compliance, the carrier will be subject to FMCSA investigations. Those who carry hazardous materials are expected to maintain a 60 or lower – passenger transport faces the highest scrutiny (which makes sense), requiring a score of 50 or below.
A good CSA score earns the benefit of lower insurance premiums, fewer Department of Transportation (DOT) audits, a decrease in roadside inspections and an improved reputation with potential partners.
How is a CSA score determined?
The FMCSA separates Safety Measurement Systems (SMS) into seven categories known as BASICs or Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories. Here’s a quick look at each category:
- Unsafe driving. This includes speeding, improper lane changes, distracted driving, unbuckled seatbelts and overall reckless driving.
- Crash indicator. Any history of crash involvement.
- Hours-of-Service compliance. A measure of compliance with HOS regulations, including logbooks.
- Vehicle maintenance. Everything from brakes, lights, defects and failure to make repairs when needed.
- Controlled substances and alcohol. Any use or possession of controlled substances and alcohol in the vehicle or before driving.
- Hazardous materials compliance. Any improper packaging, incorrect placement of placards, leaking containers and other failures surrounding safe HAZMAT handling and transport.
- Driver fitness. An invalid license or any medical condition that makes a driver unfit to operate a CMV.
How do I check my CSA score?
Checking your CSA score takes just a few seconds. You can check it at any time on the USDOT website: csa.fmcsa.dot.gov. Just enter your USDOT number and PIN into the login page, and your score will appear.
If you don’t have a PIN, you will need to request one from USDOT and it will be sent to you within 4-7 days. Registration and PIN requests can all be done through the CSA portal online, found on the above website.
Ways to improve your CSA score
If you are unhappy with your CSA score, there are several ways to improve it. Here are six of our top tips:
- Frequent vehicle maintenance and inspections. Be sure every truck and trailer is inspected regularly. Set up a calendar and stick to it. Vehicle maintenance is one of the primary categories in BASICs, and keeping your vehicles up to date will prevent any unnecessary dings on your score. Make up a simple checklist and share it with everyone within the company.
- Be careful when you hire drivers. Your CSA score is calculated based on each of your drivers’ roadside inspections and crash reports, so it’s important that every driver contributes in a positive way. If you are hiring a new driver, be sure to review the PSP records thoroughly. The FMCSA reports those who review PSP records before hiring reduce their crash rates by as much as 17%.
- Start conducting pre-trip inspections. Before every trip, be sure to do a quick inspection on all vehicles. Check them top to bottom for maintenance issues and compliance. It’s also a good idea to do a quick check with your driver to be sure their license is current and they are healthy and fit to drive.
- Create a proper schedule for drivers. Make sure every driver is in compliance with HOS regulations. This includes daily hour driving limits, breaks, sleeper berth provisions and weekly driving limits. Check your schedules regularly and listen to your drivers if they have concerns. Unfortunately, more than 8,000 truck accidents happen every year due to drowsy driving.
- Enhance driver training. Keep your drivers up-to-date on all regulations and safety concerns. Use an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) to keep track of hours and driving behavior patterns. If you see any recurring problems, hold specific trainings on that issue. It’s also a good idea to review how CSA scores are calculated annually.
- Do drivers get individual CSA scores?
No, the scores apply to carriers.
- What is the best way to improve a CSA score?
Three quick ways to improve your score are: pre-trip checkups of every vehicle, proper maintenance and driver tracking.
- How fast can I improve my CSA score?
If you’re unhappy with your CSA score, you can appeal for reviews. If the review brings the same result and score, then you’ll have to wait a minimum of two years to remove the existing score and score higher.
Making the most of your CSA score
Achieving a good CSA score is not impossible. Contact our experts at First Call Logistics to learn more about how we ensure safe road transport throughout our shipping and carrying networks.