A Short Guide to Understand FMCSA’s CSA Score in 2023

August 25, 2023
Cassandra Gaines

Let's talk about Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) scores and how it is one of the biggest concerns for all commercial vehicle fleets and carriers. 

According to Forbes, Safety and Technology is one of the Biggest Challenges in Fleet Management. Although it may seem that this concern only applies to carriers, it affects everyone in the industry.  Did you know this rating can help you find a suitable carrier? Let’s explore why! 

What is the CSA score?

The CSA Score is a rating the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration  (FMCSA) uses to identify high-risk motor carriers and drivers, encouraging that good practices are followed. 

CSA is FMCSA's data-driven safety compliance and enforcement program designed to improve safety and prevent commercial motor vehicle (CMV) crashes, injuries, and fatalities. 

CSA consists of three core components; the Safety Measurement System (SMS); interventions; and a Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rating system to determine the safety fitness of motor carriers.

Note: The principal objective of this measurement is to ensure the safety of drivers, fleets, and carriers. 

How is CSA Calculated?

The SMS uses data from roadside inspections and crash reports from the last two years, and data from investigations to identify and intervene with motor carriers that pose the greatest risk to safety. 

The score is measured according to the following seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), which include:

  1. Unsafe Driving: Repeated unsafe behaviors while driving, such as: using a hand-held cell phone, reckless driving, speeding, improper lane changes, and inattention. 
  2. Hours of Service Compliance: Driving while sick,  tired or failing to maintain records of duty status properly.
  3. Vehicle Maintenance: Failing to maintain vehicles, such as faulty lights, brakes, or other vehicle defects.
  4. Controlled Substances and Alcohol: Having a driver found to be operating a CMV under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs that impair driving abilities. 
  5. Hazardous Materials Compliance: Improperly handling hazardous materials, such as failing to label materials or having leaky containers.  
  6. Crash Indicator: State-reported crashes from the last two years are collected in this BASIC to help identify patterns of high crash involvement and the behaviors or set of behaviors that contributed to the crash.
  7. Driver Fitness: The carrier has failed to maintain qualification files, including commercial drivers' licenses (CDLs), medical certificates, state driving records, annual reviews of driving records, and employment applications.

Note: When a driver receives a violation or is involved in an accident the violations and accidents are reported under the carrier’s DOT number; the violations will be assigned to the carrier and impact that carrier’s CSA score.

Why CSA Score Matters

Brokers and Shippers rely on the CSA scores and measures as a way to screen the carriers that they plan to hire, however this score can also provide additional benefits:

  • Fewer DOT audits and roadside inspections
  • Lower annual insurance premiums
  • Easier driver recruitment efforts
  • Customer preference

If a CSA score is alarming, the FMCSA will likely monitor operations and consequently, a decline in a carrier’s CSA score may lead to an alert status and, eventually, an Out-of-Service Order (OOSO), leading to stopped operations.

Note: Concerning CSA scores and measures may also lead to FMCSA audits and a Conditional Safety Status. 

Why are CSA Scores Important to Carrier Assure?  

CSA score is a determining factor in finding a suitable carrier to work with for your shipments, however, finding this information on the FMCSA website can be time-consuming and difficult; luckily, you can leave this in Carrier Assure’s hands. 

We receive all of the data directly from the FMCSA, and our algorithms use data science to provide you with an easy-to-understand predictive score on how a full truckload carrier may perform for you. 

Our software constantly analyzes and re-scores carriers using CSA measures and other data to provide you with the most up-to-date information available. Sign up now to see for yourself!