• Industry Trends

How to Improve Your CSA Score

The current Compliance, Safety, and Accountability score system administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration dates back to December 2010. CSA scores range from zero to 100, with lower scores being better than higher scores. The short answer for carriers who ask how to improve CSA score is to integrate electronic logging devices with workflow optimization solutions.

What Is a Good CSA Score?

A CSA score of zero is a perfect score. While many drivers have some violations, there is no good average CSA score. Drivers and carriers who have few recent violations have lower scores, while those with higher scores have had CSA violations in the last 24 months.

Relatively minor CSA violations, such as form and manner violations or driving without a valid medical certificate, carry one-point penalties. Equipment violations and outdated logs have higher penalties, and can quickly drive up CSA scores. Drivers and fleets with low CSA scores demonstrate a commitment to safety and reducing liability.

What Can a CSA Inspection Cover?

Inspections conducted according to the FMCSA CSA compliance and enforcement program cover behavior analysis and safety improvement categories, or BASICs. These areas include unsafe driving, crashes, hours-of-service compliance, vehicle maintenance, hazardous materials compliance, driver fitness, and controlled substances or alcohol. Here are four broad categories covered during CSA inspections:

  • Fleet Operations: CSA scores are used to enforce compliance with hours-of-service regulations, including keeping log books up to date.
  • Vehicle Equipment: Inspections cover maintenance of safety systems, such as brakes and lights, and ensure that defects are fixed.
  • Driver Qualifications: Noncompliance with regulations regarding driver licensing, training, and fitness can carry significant CSA point penalties.
  • Medical Certificates: Drivers should have current and valid medical certificates and avoid driving while ill or while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.

Carriers and drivers should remain aware of regulatory changes and refer to driver fact sheets and violation severity weight sheets to make informed choices. Using ELDs and workflow management software can promote compliance and optimize productivity across a fleet.

How Is a CSA Rating Calculated?

CSA scores start at zero and rise with each violation. Citations and violations in the past two years are taken into consideration when calculating current scores. Driver profiles and CSA scores are updated monthly.

Drivers who have high CSA scores often find it harder to get hired, and shippers factor in CSA scores when choosing carriers. These scores also impact insurance premiums and the frequency of compliance checks.

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Which Factors Affect CSA Score Calculation?

There is a variety of CSA score categories, and the number of points assigned for each violation is based on severity. Here are some of the most common CSA violations and penalties:

  • Form & Manner: Moving violations can carry a penalty of one point, with higher penalties for involvement in crashes.
  • Outdated Logs: Drivers who do not maintain updated logs can receive a five-point penalty.
  • Equipment Violations: Pre-trip inspections can help drivers avoid penalties for brakes (four points), lights (six points), and tires (eight points).
  • Medical Violations: Drivers without a valid medical certificate can receive a one- to two-point penalty, while those who drive while physically ill, distracted, or under the influence of controlled substances may receive penalties of up to ten CSA points.

Drivers should be aware of these and other CSA score categories covered on violation severity weight sheets. A driver should try to avoid getting even minor CSA penalties if possible by observing regulations that pertain to tracking hours of service, doing pre-trip inspections, and striving for safe operations.

Who Tracks CSA Scores for Drivers?

The FMCSA oversees the CSA score system for carriers and fleets. Scores for this safety compliance and enforcement program are based on the number of safety violations and inspections, the severity of violations or crashes, the date at which safety violations occurred, the number of trucks a carrier operates, and the number of vehicle miles traveled.

Other relevant data tracked by the FMCSA include company safety records, an industry-wide pre-employment screening program, data reviews, and information for drivers and carriers. Fleet managers who stay apprised of current and historical CSA scores for drivers can use this data to make smarter staffing decisions.

How Can Drivers Improve CSA Scores?

The best way for a driver to improve his or her CSA score is to pass inspections with no or only minor violations. Drivers with high CSA scores undergo roadside inspections more frequently than drivers with lower scores. Each inspection is an opportunity to drive away with no additional violations or can end up adding more points to a driver’s CSA score.

Carriers can set drivers up for success by carefully reviewing pre-employment screening program reports, providing thorough training, facilitating pre-trip equipment inspections, using ELDs, and implementing workflow automation software to optimize operations. Fleet managers and drivers who take proactive measures to address all of the likely areas in which CSA violations could occur can prevent new violations. Old violations may also carry less weight as time passes, and will drop off of a driver’s or carrier’s record after two years.

Drivers with low CSA scores for carriers who do not make safety a priority may want to consider switching to better-rated carriers. A high CSA score can be an asset in pre-employment screening for drivers. Drivers can also aim to work for carriers who use ELDs to track hours of service and keep out-of-service vehicles from operating. Carriers that use workflow management software can also make it easier for drivers to maintain up-to-date logbooks, refer to digital checklists for completing inspections, and easily satisfy other regulatory requirements.

How Can Workflow Management Software Improve CSA Scores?

Workflow management software can be used to connect fleet managers and staff in carrier offices to drivers on the road. Fluix is a popular platform in many industry sectors because this software supports code-free automation, document distribution and signing, and other important functions for daily operations in the transportation industry.

Carriers can start by mapping out workflows and looking for inefficiencies or areas where improvements to operations could clear the way to lower CSA scores. Fluix can automate approval processes and other workflows to make it easy for fleet managers to send out notifications, monitor vehicle locations and hours of operation, and provide shippers with more accurate schedules.

Drivers in fleets equipped with ELDs that back up data from these systems, and carriers that use workflow software, are likely to have lower CSA scores than drivers in fleets that do not implement monitoring or workflow solutions. Carriers can set drivers up for success by monitoring operations and taking a proactive approach to CSA compliance.

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