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For the dedicated drivers who transport our goods, safety is non-negotiable. So, to hold carriers accountable for their role in keeping our roads safe for both drivers and the general public, the FMCSA created the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program. Using data gathered from roadside inspections, crash reports, investigation results, and even vehicle registration details, the FMCSA assigns each DOT number a truck driver CSA score, and that score can have a huge impact on the success of a trucking company. Below, we’ll go over everything you need to know about CSA scores: how they’re calculated, why they matter, how to check your own, and tips for improving it.

How Does The FMCSA Calculate CSA Scores? 

You can find your company’s safety data online in the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS), where it will be updated on a monthly basis as new information comes in from roadside inspections. When gathering this data, they’ll look at: 

  • The number of safety violations and inspections
  • The severity of safety violations or crashes
  • When the safety violations occurred, with recent events weighted more heavily
  • The number of trucks/buses a carrier operates and the number of vehicle miles traveled
  • Acute and Critical Violations found during investigations

Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories

The next step the FMCSA takes when determining your truck driver CSA score is to group this SMS data into seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories, or BASICs for short. The categories are as follows:

The FMCSA weights each violation or crash based on time and severity (the more recent an incident occurs, the heavier its weight). To determine your truck driver CSA score, the SMS will group carriers with those who have a similar number of safety events and assign each carrier a percentile rank. This percentage, ranging from 0-100 with 0 being the best and 100 being the worst, is your CSA score. 

*To see the severity weight for specific violations, take a look at Appendix A 4-18 of the SMS Methodology: BASIC Prioritization Status document from the FMCSA. 

Why A Good Truck Driver CSA Score Matters

Reduces Interventions

If your truck driver CSA score is too high, the FMCSA will launch an investigation – and no one wants that. Luckily, they’re transparent about their intervention thresholds. For property carriers, the FMCSA will investigate a score at or above 65, and for hazardous materials and passenger carriers, the threshold is even lower – 60 and 50 respectively – since the stakes are heightened. You can avoid these costly, time-consuming investigations by maintaining a good CSA score.

Brings Better Loads

Many shippers review publicly available CSA score data before choosing a carrier. A great CSA score is an excellent way to assure them that you can be trusted to transport their goods safely, and considering the amount of competition carriers are up against, gaining a shipper’s trust is essential.

Lowers Insurance Premiums

The lower a carrier’s CSA score, the less risk insurance companies face if they choose to cover them. So, most insurance companies will review your CSA scores when determining deductibles and premiums (some may even deny coverage if the score is too high).

How To Check Your CSA Score

While the public can’t see a carrier’s actual CSA score, anyone can search a carrier’s name or DOT number to see how they performed in five of the seven BASICs (the Crash Risk Indicator and Hazardous Materials BASICs are hidden from the public). To view your own safety data and check your CSA score, all you have to do is visit the SMS login page and enter your DOT number and PIN (if you don’t have a PIN, you can request one from USDOT). 

How To Improve Your CSA Score

Challenge Questionable Violations

If you are unfairly accused of a safety violation, the good news is that you have a full two years to challenge it and restore your truck driver CSA score. While they could deny the challenge, if they do, don’t give up just yet – you can still challenge the severity of the violation. 

Keep Your Trucks Well-Maintained

When vehicles are regularly maintained by a trained mechanic, they’re far less likely to encounter issues during roadside inspections. Diagnostic technology can also be of huge assistance here, as the right tools will notify you before an issue becomes, well, an issue. 

*Note: problems with the truck’s lights and tires are two of the most common issues found during roadside inspections, accounting for 30% and 10% of maintenance violations respectively.

Participate In A Weigh Station Bypass Program

Bypass programs allow carriers with good safety scores under the ISS (Inspection Selection System) to compliantly drive past mobile inspection sites, and the fewer inspections you face, the smaller the chance you’ll get cited for a violation. 

Use An ELD

HOS violations are some of the most common ways to damage a CSA score, and oftentimes, these violations are due to human error. Since ELDs take vehicle information directly from the engine and record the necessary metrics automatically, they can significantly reduce your number of HOS violations.

Review PSP Reports When Hiring Drivers

Pre-employment Screening Program reports give information on a potential new hire’s driving history, including details on accidents and past violations. With this information, you can be sure to hire drivers that have a good track record, indicating they’ll drive just as safely when driving with you. 

Pay The HVUT With i2290

It’s always advisable to stay compliant with the law, especially when it comes to paying your taxes. With i2290, filing Form 2290 and paying the HVUT is easy. Our software will walk you through a quick series of questions about your business and your vehicles, automatically calculate your taxes for you, and get you your IRS-stamped Schedule 1 in a matter of minutes. Once you file, your tax documents will be securely stored online for you to access at any time, and if you need help at any point in the process, our dedicated support team is just a call away. 

Ready for a better Form 2290 filing solution? Create an account with i2290 today!

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