3 Steps to Lowering CSA Scores
Your company’s CSA scores effect everything from insurance rates to lawsuit outcomes. Bad scores can even lose you customers. This makes safety a number one priority for any trucking company that wants to continue and grow.
Getting CSA scores down does take time, but it is possible. With diligence, safety consciousness, and a thorough understanding of the regulations, you can work towards better scores. This work starts with three valuable steps to improved safety scores.
Understanding CSA Scores
The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program is run by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). CSA scores are meant to hold trucking companies accountable for road safety. Numbers range from 0-100%, with lower scores indicating better safety compliance.
Scores are assigned based on safety infractions in seven different categories known as BASICS:
- Unsafe Driving (speeding, reckless driving, etc.)
- Crash Indicator (history and frequency of carrier crashes)
- Hours-of-Service (14-hour driving rule and electronic logging device infractions)
- Vehicle Maintenance (vehicle defects that should be dealt with during pre- and post-trip inspections)
- Controlled Substances/Alcohol (driving under the influence infractions)
- Hazardous Materials (proper packing of hazardous materials and controlling leaks)
- Driver Fitness (physical and mental ailments discovered during physicals)
Each category has scores assigned based on the severity of the infraction. These scores affect how enforcement officers look at audits and inspections. They also affect the willingness of shippers and brokers to work with your company.
Most Common CSA Infractions
CSA scores can help you determine what areas to emphasize during safety training. If you have recurring issues, you should dedicate time to it to help drivers understand the regulation. While every company has their own areas to deal with, the FMCSA has shared what the most common infractions are.
Lights are one of the common issues. This is also something that’s easy to remedy. Check all lights before leaving and make sure headlights, brake lights, and license plate lights are functional.
Brakes are another issue area commonly seen during inspections. It’s important to check brakes during your regular maintenance routine. Also check tires regularly to make sure they are in good condition and inflated correctly.
Another common issue is driver logs. All drivers in your company should understand how to use ELDs and maintain them to ensure correct data. Drivers also need to be trained on Hours-of-Service regulations.
The last common infraction area is medical issues. It’s important to maintain up-to-date medical records to prove drivers are fit to be on the road. If a driver is ill, they should not be behind the wheel.
Lowering Scores Step One: Prevention
To lower CSA scores, you need to start with prevention. Going through all pre- and post-trip requirements and keeping up with maintenance on vehicles and other equipment will cut down on infractions.
Drivers need to do pre-trip inspections every time before they hit the road. They should pay special attention to the common trouble areas. It’s helpful for them to use a checklist to make sure they don’t miss anything.
Maintenance on all safety equipment such as ELDs helps ensure drivers remain compliant. Do regular audits of logbooks to make sure hours are logged properly. If you have cameras in the trucks, make sure they are running properly. Cameras are helpful to prove innocence during an accident or litigation.
It’s also important to keep up with training, including maintaining records. Having updated training records shows your company’s efforts to improve safety. Regular training also helps keep drivers fresh on safety requirements.
Lowering Scores Step Two: Correct Information
Even if you’re doing everything right, sometimes safety data gets entered incorrectly or misdirected. That’s why it’s so important to check FMCSA’s DataQ system. This is where they give you access to inspection and accident reports.
You want to check this regularly and make sure all information on your records is correct. If you find an incorrect violation cited or find that a violation is incorrectly assigned to your company, you can submit a Request for Data Review in the DataQ system.
You will need to provide supporting documentation on the corrections needed. This includes original reports, pictures, court documents, etc. You’ll want to verify report numbers and make sure you have easy access to other supporting documentation in case it’s required.
You don’t want to let incorrect information count against you. The data collected on your company remains on your record for 2 years, so it’s important to maintain accuracy.
Lowering Scores Step Three: Focus on Hiring Practices
The drivers you hire have a direct effect on your CSA scores. Poor driving will count against you for 2 years, even if the driver is no longer with your company. This means it’s important to thoroughly check the driving history and look for drivers with clean records.
You should also be careful about hiring new drivers. This doesn’t mean absolutely don’t, just check their backgrounds thoroughly. Make sure your drivers understand the necessity for safety training and consciousness.
When it comes to driving the highways, you can’t prevent every issue. You can reduce violations by hiring drivers that are safety conscious.
Don’t Let Safety Scores Stall Your Growing Business
If you are struggling with getting CSA scores under control, or you’re unsure about the regulations, your best place to start is with CSA and safety training. Your best defense against infractions is a good understanding of the regulations.
Trucking 52 has compiled the most relevant safety training, including CSA regulations. This is training recommended by trucking industry experts, with a price to meet a tight budget. To learn more about how Trucking 52 can work with you to improve safety scores, request a free demo today.
View our clients CSA score improvements