Regardless of the role you play in the trucking industry, the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, or CSA, is top-of-mind. In fact, it’s probably likely that CSA factors significantly into each and every business decision you make.


Intended to improve commercial motor vehicle safety and reduce crashes, CSA tracks violations across seven safety-related categories. And when you rack up violations, it becomes harder to compete for shipping contracts. Worse, it could sideline your entire fleet.

Conversely, when you run a clean operation, brokers, shippers, and carriers tap you as their go-to carrier. That’s because safety is playing an increasingly important role in their decision-making process.



What does CSA measure?

CSA monitors seven safety improvement categories, called BASICs. (Or, Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories—but that’s a mouthful.)

The purpose?

To make travel on America’s highways and byways as safe as possible by identifying unsafe carriers in need of intervention—from targeted roadside inspections to Out-of-Service orders.

Now, you may not agree with the connection between the measurement categories and safety, but the fact is they exist—and you must comply.

Lets take a look…



Unsafe Driving BASIC

The FMCSA holds commercial motor vehicles and their drivers to a much higher standard of safety. So, it will issue violations for drivers who operate trucks “in a dangerous and careless manner.”

Some of the unsafe driver behaviors this BASIC targets include:

  • Texting and cell phone use
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Improper lane change
  • Inattention

Your Unsafe Driving score is public.


Hours of Service Compliance BASIC

The Hours of Service compliance BASIC addresses two primary issues.

First, it targets drivers who operate CMVs while sick or tired. (Wracked with the flu? It’s time to pull over.)

Second, it targets drivers who aren’t in compliance with Hours of Service regulations. That can mean a number of things, including:

  • Exceeding legally allowable hours behind the wheel
  • Form and manner errors

Your HOS Compliance score is public.


Driver Fitness BASIC

Driver Fitness has nothing to do with how much you can bench. Rather, we’re talking about whether or not your drivers are qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

Drivers who are unfit include those who:

  • Operate with an expired or suspended CDL
  • Don’t have the right training or certifications for the load they’re hauling
  • Don’t have a current medical card
  • Are unable to speak English

Your Driver Fitness score is public.


Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC

Obviously, drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol can’t operate a vehicle safely. So, the FMCSA and DOT require drivers with a CDL to comply with drug and alcohol testing.

(It’s important to note that drivers can be cited, not only for the use of illegal drugs, but the misuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well.)

The FMCSA imposes a zero-tolerance requirement for the use of controlled substances—and legal blood alcohol limits are much more strict, too. Truck drivers will be banned from operating their vehicle if they test over 0.02.

Your Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC is public.


Vehicle Maintenance BASIC

A commercial motor vehicle that hasn’t been properly maintained presents a hazard to public safety.

So, law enforcement will be on the watch for a wide range of maintenance issues, including worn tires and brake pads, missing reflectors, and lights that have burned out.

Load securement issues, once their own BASIC, have been incorporated into the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, as well.

Your Vehicle Maintenance BASIC is public.


Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC

A HazMat spill could easily endanger emergency responders at the scene, not to mention the danger it would impose on public safety.

So, to ensure emergency crews take proper precautions and are equipped to deal with the issue at hand, the FMCSA has placed a premium on proper placarding, paperwork, and compliance.

Your Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC is private—only you and the FMCSA can view it.


Crash Indicator BASIC

Crashes are recorded to help the FMCSA target carriers with significant crash histories for intervention.

What constitutes a recordable event?

A crash must include one of these factors:

  • A fatality
  • An injury requiring treatment away from the scene
  • A vehicle being towed from the scene due to disabling damage

The crash indicator BASIC does not take fault or preventability into consideration. If a texting four-wheeler cuts off a CMV and causes an accident, that crash will factor into the carrier’s score.

However, the FMCSA is currently reviewing its decision on crash accountability. If it reverses its previous position, carriers would be able to remove crashes from their records—provided they were found not-at-fault—by filing a DataQs. So, stay tuned.

Your Crash Indicator BASIC is private.



So, how are BASICs measured, exactly?

Violations are weighted on a scale from one to ten, so that actions representing the greatest crash risk, like texting while driving or operating an OOS vehicle (both 10s) will have a far greater impact on your BASIC scores than failing to use a seatbelt (a 1).

Your data will then be measured against other carriers of similar size and BASIC measurement percentiles will be assigned to each carrier. A score of 0 indicates the best performing carrier in its class, while a 100 identifies the worst.

You can review your scores on the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System website, or SMS.

In fact, we encourage you to review it regularly to ensure your data is accurate.

CSA scores

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