Having high or low compliance within your fleet reflects the quality of services you provide. Which is why it’s crucial to stay informed on the scoring methodology used to rate your fleet. Each fleet carrier is given a CSA score between 0 to 100, with the higher numbers set for the worse levels of safety. The scores are updated monthly through the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System. Find out how you can be better equipped to obtain the best CSA score and the methodology behind this program.

Overview of the FMCSA Safety Measurement System and CSA Program

trucking passenger transit

The Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program’s goal is to improve the safety of large trucks and buses. To reach this goal, the program introduces a new enforcement and compliance model that enables the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) and its state partners to reach a larger number of carriers in advance to resolve these safety problems, thus preventing crashes before they can occur.

The FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS)  is used to see which carriers or drivers need interventions, determine specific safety problems a fleet is facing, and identify which safety problems are improving or worsening.

The CSA Scoring Methodology and Its 7 Different Categories

safety measurement system sms basic

The SMS assesses your carrier’s safety performance according to the Behavior Analysis and Improvement Categories (BASICs). The SMS shows the five basics publicly online, while the Crash Indicator and Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance are only available to carriers with a safety profile login. BASICs will gather data from driver and vehicle violations, crash reports in the last two years, roadside inspections, and investigation results.

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

So how does every category affect your motor carrier’s score?

Unsafe Driving

This category prioritizes interventions for repetitive unsafe behaviors like speeding, texting, reckless driving, improper lane change, using a cell phone hand-held, and inattention. Refer to 49 CFR Parts 392 and 397 of the FMCSRs for the regulations relating to this BASIC.

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 behavior or set of behaviors that contributed to the crash. The best way to understand and address safety problems is by utilizing a smart fleet management software.

The Crash Indicator is not public; it’s accessible via logging into your safety profile.

Hours-of-Service (HOS)

Hours-of-service (HOS) make the roads safer by ensuring drivers are getting the breaks they need. Make sure your drivers are taking their regular breaks.

Vehicle Maintenance

Proper vehicle maintenance can be done through pre- and post-trip inspections, recording vehicle defects, and repairing them before operation. Refer to 49 CFR Parts 392, 393, and 396 of the FMCSRS for regulations relating to this BASIC.

Controlled Substances/Alcohol

All illegal drugs, alcohol, over-the-counter and prescription medication misuse will impair driving and endanger everyone’s safety. It’s a violation to have open or closed alcoholic beverage containers in the vehicle.

Hazardous Materials Compliance

This BASIC ensures that HM are being transported responsibly and efficiently. Everything from packaging to tank specification testing is checked under this category so it’s essential that your fleet complies.

This compliance is not public; access this BASIC through your safety profile or enforcement personnel.

Driver Fitness

Your driving records need to be up-to-date and complete to do well in this BASIC. All driver qualification files should be current–this includes valid commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), state driving records, annual reviews of driving records, medical certificates, and employment applications.

The BASIC’s measures are calculated according to the formula below:

BASIC measure = total of time and severity weighted applicable violations / Average PUs x Utilization Factor.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and Hazardous Material Regulations (HMRs) set minimum safety standards for drivers and motor carriers. You can read these in Title 49 of the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The FMCSA will provide a satisfactory rating to the carrier if they’ve implemented all the management controls that meet the FMCSA safety fitness standards. It also means that their compliance is appropriate for the carrier’s size and operation type.

Final Thoughts

Safety is integral to running your fleet and protecting other vehicles on the road. The FMCSA uses its CSA program to keep all fleet carriers in check and consistent in their safety performance on the road. Through FMCSA’s SMS, you can see where you lack and how to improve to get the best CSA score possible. In return, your drivers will grow in their careers, your vehicles can enjoy better maintenance, and customers are assured better operations in the long run.

Explore how you can create a better driving safety culture and operations strategy for your fleet based on FMCSA standards today.

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