What Is A Good CSA Score?

11 Jul, 2023


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A good CSA score is going to influence your ability to be hired for long-term work, and will be a marker over how many safety infractions that have occurred while you were operating the vehicle. This score is highly important for anyone driving commercial vehicles, so don’t take it lightly. If you screw up your CSA score, it won’t be easy to get those violations removed from your record.

What Is The CSA Program?

Enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) program is a way to hold carriers and drivers accountable for compliance and safety on the roads. To be even more specific: Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scoring is an initiative by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to improve road safety and reduce accidents, fatalities, and injuries for all US domestic commercial motor vehicles with a USDOT number (United States Department of Transportation). This number is an identifier for vehicles during report collection, compliance reviews, audits, inspections, and crash investigations.

What Are The CSA BASIC Categories?

  • Unsafe Driving: Operating a motor vehicle recklessly or dangerously, such as improper lane changing and speeding.
  • Driver Fitness: Driving a commercial carrier without a license, or exhibiting medical conditions that prohibit safe driving like night blindness renders a driver unfit to drive a vehicle.
  • Hours of Service (HOS) compliance: Operating a commercial motor vehicle for more than the allotted number of hours, or driving when sick, drowsy or fatigued.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Failure to maintain the vehicle and follow safety rules and protocols regarding service schedules and changing of spare parts and allowable emissions.
  • Controlled Substances and Alcohol: Driving a commercial vehicle under the influence of recreational drugs, illegal drugs, excessive consumption of over-the-counter medications, or alcohol.
  • Hazardous Materials Compliance: This record is not made public. Improper or unsafe handling of hazardous materials like not securing the vehicle correctly, leakages, and so on.
  • Crash Indicator: This record is not made available to the public. Repeated patterns of crashes and accidents are indicators of improper driving.

How Are SMS Percentile Ranks Calculated?

Carriers are given points and ranked on the number and severity of violations and accidents for their DOT number on a scale of 0-100. 

How Do I Check My CSA Score?

The process of checking your carrier’s CSA score is pretty easy. Simply enter your registered name or Department of Transportation (DOT) number on the FMCSA’s website.

What Is A Good CSA Score?

Unfortunately there isn’t an exact minimum point total that determines when the FMCSA will take action. It’s difficult to say exactly what constitutes a good CSA score. That doesn’t detract from the importance of your CSA score. If your company has a good CSA score, the benefits are far more significant than those businesses that do not have strong percentiles. Some of the advantages are listed below.

  • Fewer roadside inspections and DOT (Department of Transportation) audits
  • Lower insurance premiums
  • Easy skilled and experienced driver recruitments
  • Prospective customer preference

If your CSA scores are low, the FMCSA is more likely to keep regular tabs on all operations and safety procedures and protocols. Constant supervision and monitoring may also lead to higher audits, fines, penalties, and interference. This could mean extreme corrective action and resultant losses. The public perception of the transportation company will also matter in terms of brand recognition and quality assurance. Competitors can also access these records and can take pre-emptive action in the market. This means that your competition can keep tabs on you pretty closely, and possibly call down an inspection on you if they feel like your slipping in following CSA regulations. It’s a dog eat dog world out there, so don’t forget that you can be monitored by more than just CSA officials.

How To Improve Your CSA Scores?

6 ways for you to improve your CSA scores:

  • Improve your level of communication with your employees: Provide adequate information to all employees within the organization about CSA scores and their importance.
  • Safety MUST be your top priority: Management of the company, all vehicles, maintenance, personnel, and on-road safety should be implemented and followed at all times. The behavior, attitude, and outlook of all employees towards safety should be of prime concern.
  • Keep accurate records: Identify issues that have resulted in high CSA scores, and actively pursue data correction. Identify the areas that need immediate attention. Prioritize the aspects that need to be worked upon to help lower the CSA scores and allow for transparent and truthful record keeping. You should also ensure that all registration data and licensing are updated.
  • Take adequate time with training your employees: Conduct bi-annual and annual training sessions for all drivers with regards to the BASICs of unsafe driving, crash history, driver fatigue, and Hours of Service (HOS). Violations of these three categories usually amount to driving the CSA score higher than any of the others.

It’s up to you to make sure there are adequate countermeasures in place if any of your employees don’t live up to these standards. Stress the importance of following these guidelines, and enumerate the penalties for anyone that doesn’t. Giving clearly defined parameters will help your employees to follow the rules, and also allow for very little misunderstanding in regards to them. Remember, your CSA score will greatly affect the overall performance of your carrier company, so it’s worth monitoring your employees closely in regards to the aforementioned regulations. You may come across as a strict boss, but in the long run, that’s better than having your operation penalized, or shut down. What you check off today, means that you don’t have to worry about whether you have an inspection or not, because you’ll have done all of the necessary preparations for success.

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