What Are CSA Scores?

CSA scores are percentile rankings given to carriers, including owner-operators, by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They are intended to identify high-risk motor carriers who may require intervention. A poor CSA score can trigger warning letters and investigations.

The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program provides a standardized ranking to assess carriers' relative safety, crash risk, and compliance. Carriers are compared to others who share similar characteristics, such as size and type of vehicles operated, and then are grouped into percentile bands by number of safety events. The percentiles range from 0 to 100, and the higher the percentile, the worse the safety performance. Safety events that affect CSA scores include state-reported crashes, DOT inspections, and violations.

The FMCSA stores this safety data in the Safety Measurement System (SMS), which is updated once a month with data from roadside inspections, including any driver or vehicle violations, as well as crash reports from the past two years, and any investigation results.

What Are the BASIC Categories?

There are seven categories in the SMS, called BASICs, which stands for Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories. Carriers receive a percentile rank in each of these categories. The seven BASICs are:

  1. Unsafe Driving
  2. Crash Indicator
  3. Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance
  4. Vehicle Maintenance
  5. Controlled Substances/Alcohol
  6. Hazardous Materials Compliance
  7. Driver Fitness

What Affects BASIC Scores?

There are a number of reasons that a motor carrier may be prioritized for an intervention. The CSA program considers the number of safety violations and inspections, the severity of safety violations or crashes, the recency of safety events, the number of vehicles a carrier operates and the number of miles traveled, and whether any acute or critical violations were found during an investigation.

Motor carriers whose BASIC percentiles are above the intervention threshold may receive warning letters, be subject to increased scrutiny from law enforcement, or even be placed out of service.

  1. Unsafe Driving: This includes speeding, reckless driving, improper lane changes, driver inattention, and not wearing a seatbelt.
  2. Crash Indicator: This is based on state-reported crash data and takes into account historical frequency and severity of crashes.
  3. HOS Compliance: Log violations, including not maintaining an accurate record of logbooks, and not following other HOS regulations are included in this category.
  4. Vehicle Maintenance: Not maintaining vehicle brakes or lights, failing to make required repairs, and other vehicle defects are all part of this BASIC.
  5. Controlled Substances/Alcohol: The use or possession of controlled substances, alcohol, and illegal drugs are monitored here.
  6. Hazardous Materials Compliance: This includes any leaking containers, improper packaging, and failure to label hazardous materials accordingly.
  7. Driver Fitness: If a driver operates a commercial motor vehicle with an invalid license, such as not having a CDL, or is medically unfit to operate a CMV, it will affect this BASIC.

Motor carriers who are prioritized for interventions or further monitoring will have an "Alert" symbol displayed in the corresponding BASIC on the SMS website. You can view your carrier's CSA scores by inputting your US DOT number into the online FMCSA portal.

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