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6 Tips to Maintain Top CSA Scores for Truckers

A successful trucking company must have high Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) scores. CSA, or Compliance, Safety, and Accountability is a government program designed to assure dependability and safety. The CSA score is used to determine whether or not a company requires a DOT visit.

A roadside inspection may start with one evident violation but does not necessarily finish there. If the inspector undertakes a comprehensive driver and vehicle assessment, penalty points from roadside offenses can soon build up. Truckers frequently strive to maintain a good CSA score.

Good scores lead to more customers and greater business chances. Good scores are also important in lowering liability and demonstrating to clients and law enforcement that truckers are dedicated to safety. But in case of a bad CSA score truckers are less likely to get more clients and their carrier insurance cost will also be impacted negatively.

Read on to learn more about CSA scores and how truckers can maintain a top CSA score.

How is CSA Score Calculated?

The Safety Measurement System (SMS) tool is used to calculate the CSA score. SMS is the tool the FMCSA utilizes to direct resources toward the riskiest motor carriers to enhance safety.

The SMS evaluates a carrier’s performance in seven Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASICS), based on compliance and safety breaches detected during roadside inspections, as well as data obtained during investigations and reportable collisions.

These seven BASICs include:

  1. Unsafe Driving
  2. Fatigued Driving (Hours-of-Service)
  3. Driver Fitness
  4. Controlled Substances/Alcohol
  5. Vehicle Maintenance
  6. Cargo-Related
  7. Crash Indicator

On a percentile scale, scores go from 0 to 100. The greater the percentile a CSA score falls within, the more probable an intervention will be pursued by the FMCSA.

The BASICs categorize violations into specific and separate categories connected to dangerous or non-compliant conduct, giving the Agency a more complete, robust, and detailed perspective of individual motor carriers’ specific performance and compliance concerns.

How Can Truckers Check their CSA Score?

Truckers may check their CSA score by entering their carrier name or DOT number on the CSA program website. Except for the Crash Indicator and Hazardous Materials Compliance BASICs, all BASIC information is open to the public.

Additional safety data may be obtained through SMS with a unique login and pin. If truckers do not already have an FMCSA login, they may sign up for one online.

What is Considered a Good CSA Score?

A trucker with a percentile score of 100 implies poor performance, while a score of zero shows excellent performance. Carriers with Unsafe Driving, Crash indicators, and HOS Compliance ratings of above 65 percent are subject to FMCSA investigations.

The thresholds for hazardous chemicals and passenger carriers are much lower, at 60 percent and 50 percent, respectively. Most carriers must meet an 80 percent requirement in the remaining BASIC categories before the FMCSA will act.

Carriers with good CSA ratings benefit from cheaper insurance rates, fewer DOT audits and roadside inspections, and a better reputation among existing and prospective clients. So, truckers must remain below those limits as they will have a significant influence on their profitability.

How do Truckers Maintain Top CSA Scores?

Truckers can improve their CSA ratings over time by making safety a priority. They must grasp the BASICs and how things like traffic infractions and wrecks affect the score.

Listed below are a few tips with which truckers can maintain top CSA scores.

Use Reliable ELDs

ELDs can assist to enhance CSA results in a variety of ways. For starters, drivers and dispatchers may monitor hours of service and be notified when a driver’s limit is nearing.

Operating an out-of-service vehicle and driving after being declared out-of-service are the top offenses that roadside inspectors look for. Everyone concerned may see the precise time a driver is more likely to incur a citation if they continue driving using an ELDs.

“Form & Manner” and “Outdated Logs” offenses account for almost 1/4 of all roadside violations. They can, however, be avoided if drivers log electronically. Because carriers no longer have to rely on drivers manually documenting their hours. Managers will not put any pressure on drivers to be dishonest.

Check the Brakes of the Vehicle

CSA ratings may suffer during Operation Safe Driver Week or Brake Safety Week. Law enforcement increases roadside inspections and tickets during these weeks. Despite its importance, brake safety is sometimes disregarded during pre-trip inspections.

Taking care of brake adjustments and air leaks is a more difficult and messy operation that many drivers choose to avoid. To guarantee that these vital duties are completed, fleet managers might ask their drivers which components of pre-trip checks are the most difficult to accomplish. Then they can give guidance and/or resources to make things easier.

Challenge the Results

Carriers have two years to contest penalties for offenses that accumulate CSA points and affect their CSA score. Truckers can either contest the full allegation or only the severity of it. Their CSA score will improve if they complete either sort of task.

To question the results of a citation, use the DataQs system, including any accessible supporting material.

Avoid Medical Violations

Some penalties will reduce the CSA score when a driver is driving while he or she is ill. It’s considered a similar violation to driving while texting or being under the influence of drugs. Trucking companies should ensure that no drivers drive while they are ill.

Penalties for sick-while-driving mainly point out the importance of the health and alertness of the drivers. These medical violations may be considered too harsh but given that drivers may endanger themselves at high speed, they must be in the best shape to stay alert.

Ensure that No Controlled Substances or Alcohol are Used

Driving while intoxicated or under the effect of controlled substances is one of the biggest reasons accidents occur. Ensure that drivers don’t get intoxicated or use controlled substances while driving.

Teach supervisors to recognize drivers under the influence. Trucking companies can also set up rules that forbid drivers from drinking alcohol at least three to four hours before duty.

Proper Maintenance of the Commercial Vehicle

Visible vehicle faults such as lights and tires prompt 1/3rd of roadside inspections. These roadside violations are considerably simpler to avoid if trucking companies monitor and do preventative maintenance and Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports regularly (DVIR).

Electronic DVIRs assist drivers in completing pre-trip and post-trip inspections without the need for paper forms.

Get a Good CSA Score

Reducing and maintaining a good CSA score is beneficial for any trucking company. The best way in which truckers can maintain top CSA scores is by ensuring that they avoid as many violations as possible. With the above-mentioned tips truckers can significantly lower their CSA score while maintaining a good business.


Can the results of a DOT inspection be challenged?

Yes. If a trucking company uncovers erroneous or missing information on its record, it can request a review using the FMCSA’s DataQs.

Can ELDs lower CSA scores?

Yes, with reliable ELDs, truckers can monitor the hours of service of a driver and drivers can electronically log their hours without any errors. This can help them avoid out-of-service violations and “Form & Manner” and “Outdated Logs” violations.

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