Photo by Tristan / CC BY

A carrier’s CSA (Compliance, Safety, and Accountability) from the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) may make the difference between profit and loss for a trucking company. Knowing what it is, how it works, and how to improve or maintain a safe score may ultimately be the difference between thriving and surviving in this competitive business.

What’s the Purpose?

The purpose of CSA scoring is to reduce highway crashes in America by identifying unsafe carriers and drivers. With 5 million buses and trucks sharing the road with 250 million motorists, tracking safety indicators is imperative. Removing extreme violators from the equation and identifying areas of improvement for legitimate trucking companies makes sense.

How Does the CSA Score Affect Business?  

According to the XRS Corporation, 63,754 trucking carriers are currently under a CSA safety status alert. The CSA measures seven BASIC (Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Categories) of which five are available to the public. Brokers, shippers, and insurance carriers have access to every trucking companies safety score. This knowledge can impede business discouraging brokers to use a highly scored company and may affect insurance premiums.

What Does CSA Track and Score?

The CSA tracks driver behavior, such as, texting and cell phone use while driving, speeding, reckless driving, improper lane violation, and inattention. It also tracks HOS (Hours of Service) violations, controlled substance abuse, vehicle maintenance, hazardous material compliance, and crashes.

How is it scored?

Infractions are assigned scores from 1-10 with 10 being the gravest score. For example, texting while driving, proven to be a high indicator of accident proneness, scores a 10. Scores are totaled from 0 (perfect) to 100 (unsafe) and compared to similar sized trucking companies.

How can a score be improved?

Use EOBR (Electronic On Board Recorders)

  • Monitor behaviors in need of improvement focusing on follow up training.
  • Document vehicle maintenance to stay ahead of required upkeep.
  • Track driver hours avoiding HOS infractions.

Streamline communication

Today businesses experience communication breakdowns due to the varying forms of media being used. In trucking it’s critical that the field personnel (drivers) are on the same page as office personnel (dispatchers, maintenance technicians, and management) as well as the customer. A driver waiting for a phone call from a dispatcher who answered the driver with an email an hour earlier is a formula for code violation. There are a myriad paperless systems available today.

Hire and Train the Right People

The process begins by fully vetting all employment candidates and not only drivers but technicians and dispatchers as well. Any unqualified or disreputable employees, not only drivers, may adversely affect the CSA score by their actions. Start by completing background and employment reference checks. It’s always a good idea to use a hiring system geared to recognizing character. The first chapter of this free eBook outlines one such system, The Managers Workbook. It doesn’t end there; continuing employee training focused on avoiding violations reduces noncompliance.

CSA scores are meant to reduce crashes on our highways, but it can mean a lot more to the transportation industry. Efforts to reduce accidents, maintain equipment, and regulate the safety of drivers can be a positive, morale-boosting, and cost-savings initiative. What has changed in your operation with the advent of CSA scores and how has it affected your operation?