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What Is Considered a Good CSA Score, and Why Does It Matter?

When it comes to managing a fleet of commercially licensed drivers, properly handling the stipulations put forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) requires a thorough understanding of federal regulations. Leaving that knowledge unchecked runs the potential for a significant impact on your company’s CSA score, as well as unforeseen risk. But what is a good CSA score, and why does it matter?

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What Is a CSA Score?

The FMCSA launched the CSA methodology and scoring to improve the overall safety of commercially licensed drivers, while in tandem holding drivers and carriers responsible for safe driving practices.

The data that is used to determine your CSA score is stored in a database called the Safety Measurement System (SMS). The FMCSA uses the SMS to gather data on roadside inspections and crash reports going back two years, as well as data from investigations it conducts to determine your score.

CSA scoring is measured on a scale from zero to 100. The lower the score, the better. These CSA points are determined by evaluating driving behavior against the appropriately abbreviated BASICs, or Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories.

The BASICS Categories

The FMCSA ranks carriers monthly against the BASICS, assigning a percentile in an attempt to prioritize carriers based on intervention needs. The BASICS include:

  1. Unsafe driving
  2. Crash indicators
  3. Hours-of-service compliance
  4. Vehicle maintenance
  5. Controlled substances/alcohol
  6. Hazardous materials compliance
  7. Driver fitness

Have you seen the proposed changes to the FMCSA’s SMS?

What is a Good CSA Score?

Having a good CSA score has its benefits, but defining what “good” is proves to be more difficult than one would initially think. Since there is no minimum associated with CSA scoring set forth by the FMCSA that delineates “good,” your percentile rank, specifically in relation to other fleets, is of the utmost importance.

The FMCSA discovered through data analysis that three of the BASICS, unsafe driving, crash indicators and hours-of-service compliance all had the highest correlation to crash risk. Their solution to combat such behavior? Lower intervention thresholds surrounding these BASICS, to engage sooner in the hopes of mediating roadway incidents.

Do Personal Citations Impact a Driver’s CSA Score?

No, tickets or warnings that drivers receive while operating their personal vehicles are considered state citations and don’t impact driver CSA scoring in any way. Although that news may prompt a sigh of relief right now, it’s important to know that you may not be seeing the whole picture of your drivers at hand if choosing to treat these sets of data as two entirely separate entities.

While you may see the picture-perfect view of your CDL drivers based on their spotless CSA score, there may also be things you are unaware of. What you aren’t seeing are the violations incurred on personal time, which can be detrimental to a fleet.

Consider a driver who receives a DUI off the clock and has that violation reflected on their personal motor vehicle record. Even with pristine CSA scoring, such a violation that goes unnoticed can be harmful to your fleet for a multitude of reasons. One of the most ever-present? The legal concept of negligent entrustment, which finds you liable for the off-the-clock actions of an employee you had deemed safe to drive.

Why Do CSA Scores Matter?

CSA scores can:

  • Directly impact your insurance premiums
  • Hold weight with customers who are prone to follow fleet status and rankings
  • Reduce Department of Transportation (DOT) audits and roadside inspections
  • Help you better retain your drivers due to a stellar reputation

While these are all positive benefits if you have a good score, a lacking CSA score can mean increased scrutiny from the FMCSA, the potential for rectification and even negative public perception.

How to Improve Your CSA Score

How do you manage all of the components of the CSA methodology while keeping your fleet safe and administrative tasks handled? A robust driver safety program can help ensure compliance while preventing your drivers from falling into poor percentile ranks. It also proves integral in proactive fleet management. Whether it be the increasingly aggressive litigious landscape, regulatory obligations that come with verifying driver qualifications or the need to vet drivers, a thorough driver safety program can help you navigate it all.

To learn how you can combat these fleet risk management obstacles and improve your CSA scores, download our free guide, How to Implement a Comprehensive Driver Safety Program.


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