October 7, 2013

What Are My CSA Scores and How Do You Check Them?
[Updated 2021]

Is your trucking company considered “safe” by the FMCSA? As a trucking company owner, you should regularly check your CSA scores to determine if you could be in danger of a warning letter or more inspections.

But, if you aren’t sure where to start, here’s a basic overview of what CSA is, how you can check your scores, and some ways to improve them, too!

What Does CSA Stand For

CSA stands for Compliance, Safety, and Accountability. It’s a program under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to make sure trucking companies and drivers are following the regulations set to keep their drivers and others on the road safe.

CSA scores are calculated under seven categories referred to as the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). Having violations in any of these categories can have a major negative impact on your trucking company. Brokers won’t want to work with you, you may have a harder time getting higher paying loads, and you could even be put out of service by the FMCSA.

Here’s an overview of each category and some examples of violations for each.

BASIC Category Violation Examples
Unsafe driving
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Improper lane change
Crash indicators
  • Crashes/accidents
Hours-of-service compliance
  • Improperly documented logbooks
  • Hours of service violations like not taking a 30 minute break or driving too many hours
Vehicle maintenance
  • Broken brakes
  • Lights malfunctioning
  • Vehicle defects
  • Failure to make required repairs
Controlled substances/alcohol
  • Use/possession of controlled substances or alcohol
HAZMAT compliance
  • Leaking containers
  • Not properly packaged
  • Improper placarding
Driver fitness
  • Invalid license
  • Unfit to operate CMV based on medical requirements

How Does FMCSA Gather Your Company’s Data?

The FMCSA collects data through roadside inspections, which includes any driver or vehicle violations. They will also use crash reports from the last two years and any investigation results when performed. It’s then compiled into FMCSA’s Safety Management System (SMS).

How Do I Check My CSA Scores?

You can check your CSA scores for free online through FMCSA’s system. You can access basic data online if you have the name of the trucking company or the company’s DOT Number, even if you aren’t directly working with or for the company. This can be especially useful if you are a broker and need to find a trucking company that is trustworthy and safe. However, not all data is available on each company’s public profile.

If you’re viewing your CSA scores for your own company, you’ll want to log into the system with your DOT PIN or in the FMCSA portal. This will provide you with additional information that’s not available to the public, such as your actual CSA scores, as crash records and certain hazardous material records.

You can view these records through FMCSA’s portal, which we’ve created a video tutorial on how to log in and navigate through the website, as it can be intimidating.

How Are CSA Scores Calculated?

CSA scores are measured in percentiles, with 100 being the worst and 0 being the best. Each category is calculated through a relatively complex equation, taking into account:

  • The number of safety violations and inspections
  • How severe those violations and crashes were
  • When the violations occurred (more recent events have a greater impact on your score)

This means that your score can and will change over time. If you have a crash on your record, that will negatively impact your score, but if you go for a few years without getting additional violations, your score will start to go down, which makes your CSA records look even better.

A semi truck with the hood open.

What Are Good CSA Scores?

Good CSA scores mean each of your BASIC categories are below the threshold and you don’t have any warnings on your company’s record. You can see if your company has any warnings when viewing your CSA scores, as they will show up in the portal.

If you have enough warnings, you may be sent a warning letter by the FMCSA. It’s important to start making changes within your company to prevent further violations from occurring.

How Do You Improve Your CSA Scores?

The best way you can improve your CSA scores is to follow regulations and put systems in place that prevent safety violations from occurring again. If you think an incorrect violation was given to your company, you can fight them through the Data Q process. If your scores are bad or trending up, you should focus on areas where your company is more likely to be penalized and make changes to prevent it. Over time, if you have fewer violations, your CSA scores will go up!

For example, if you have an ELD that regularly malfunctions, have a system in place that a driver can easily fix their logs or find a better ELD provider. Each trucking company is different, but if you are always on top of your paperwork, do regular maintenance on your trucks, and prepare for any inspections, you are likely to have good CSA scores.

Need Help Running a Trucking Company?

Want to learn more about running a successful trucking company? The coaches at Motor Carrier HQ can help! We’re always ready to help you get your operating authority, prepare for DOT audits, and provide you with resources to help you manage your paperwork and keep your trucks on the road.

You can also listen to our podcast Haulin Assets, where we walk you through how to start a trucking company, best business practices that help you be profitable and some tips to stay compliant while running a successful business.

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