CSA and Safety Scores

Todd Dills | April 02, 2011

Long Haul’s Theis says his fleet’s strategy is to reduce hours violations by focusing on running legal with paper logs. And rather than getting rid of drivers who were having problems when CSA began, he says, “we’d rather [spend time with] drivers to help … get them on a better track.”

The company reduced log violations by 51 percent in a single year, reducing its percentile ranking in Fatigued Driving significantly.

MIND THE SMALL STUFF. Pay strict attention to all aspects of your operation. For example, Osterberg says, “We find law enforcement stacking citations for speeding and lack of seat belt use.” Both violations carry CSA points.

BUILD LAW ENFORCEMENT RELATIONSHIPS. For independents, good relationships with the highway patrol will enable you to call on them for advice. They might also be available to help your ISS or Vehicle Maintenance BASIC scores by inspecting your equipment. Now that CSA is live, Harmon and Hadden of the Tennessee state patrol are frequently requested to do terminal inspections, says Harmon.

As an owner-operator, it’s crucial you’re actively engaged in every aspect of your business. “If they don’t do what they’re supposed to,” Harmon says, “the feds are going to take notice [and] insurance premiums will go up.”


‘Red flag violations’

Violation CSA BASIC Regulatory part

Operating with more than one CDL Driver Fitness 383.21

Operating without a valid CDL Driver Fitness 383.23(a)(2)

Driving while disqualified Driver Fitness 383.51(a)

Operating with improper CDL group Driver Fitness 383.91(a)

Unqualified driver Driver Fitness 391.11

Driver lacking valid license for vehicle type Driver Fitness 391.11(b)(5)

Driver disqualified from operating Driver Fitness 391.11(b)(7)

Driving while disqualified Driver Fitness 391.15(a)

Driver uses or in possession of drugs Controlled Substances/Alcohol 392.4(a)

Possession/use/under influence of Controlled alcohol less than 4 hours prior to duty Substances/Alcohol 392.5(a)

Driving after being declared OOS Fatigued Driving (HOS) 395.13(d)

Operating an OOS vehicle Vehicle Maintenance 396.9(c)(2)



Independents: How to create your DOT account

To access your full carrier safety profile, including your scores, request a DOT-issued PIN. To do that, create an account in FMCSA’s multipurpose Compass Portal:

• Have a credit card for ID purposes and your DOT number handy.

• Visit portal.fmcsa.dot.gov.

• Follow the links for creating a user account.


CSA interventions begin

Warning letters started going out early this year to carriers with an “alert” in any one or more BASIC categories of measurement, indicating a ranking above the percentile thresholds for the new CSA interventions, of which the letters are the first part. FMCSA said the letters generally outline “possible consequences of continued safety problems” associated with a BASIC. There is no statutory requirement for you to respond directly to FMCSA regarding a warning letter you’ve received, but the agency hopes you will take action to correct noted problems. If you don’t, they will come calling in the future.

The only way to improve a bad rating is with time and/or clean inspections. In CSA, more recent violations are weighted more heavily in making the ranking. If you’re one of the few small carriers to be at alert stage, take immediate action to correct problems that a bad score may indicate.

Alert thresholds in the five public BASICs

Unsafe Driving 65

Fatigued Driving (hours) 65

Driver Fitness 80

Controlled Substances/Alcohol 80

Vehicle Maintenance 80



The smallest carriers have higher percentile rankings than large carriers in the five public BASICs. In Fatigued Driving and Unsafe Driving BASICs, average scores were five and 10 percentage points, respectively, above the threshold of 65 (out of 100). In Driver Fitness, the average score was 93%, indicating those small fleets’s violations are worse than 93 percent of all fleets. This suggests small operators need to do a better job of keeping up with driver credentialing, from current medical cards and insurance to proper CDL endorsements. The CSA Industry Report containing this data is available free via transcorefreightsolutions.com. Click CSA Resource Center under the “Resources” menu.


Monitor speeding warnings in ‘probable cause’ states

In many states, law enforcement officers must always have probable cause, such as observing a moving violation, to pull over a truck on the highway. Problems often arise when enforcement officers want to inspect a truck and issue a speeding warning with a roadside inspection to cover the probable cause requirement.

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