A Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score is an evaluation conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that measures the safety of motor carriers and drivers, aiming to improve large truck and bus safety. In addition to the well-being of your employees and others on the road, operating safely is also vital to your business. Certain violations can bring your operation to a halt, resulting in additional expenses to find other means of moving your freight and potentially decreased service levels for your customers. Based on the severity of your violation, the FMCSA has consequences and steps you have to take to resume operations. The consequences range from warning letters and more roadside inspections, to hefty fines and restricted until improvements are made.
CSA scores are updated based on the driver and the vehicle every 30 days. Your score is determined by violations of unsafe driving, hours of service compliance, driver fitness, controlled substances and alcohol, vehicle maintenance, hazardous material compliance, and crash indicator. Violations are either moving violations or items that fail to meet expectations during inspections. The more recent the violation, the more weight it holds on your overall score. Performance measures are adjusted based on the carrier size so that comparisons are easier to make. To see the algorithm to determine these scores you can visit FMCSA.
It’s important to keep your CSA score in good standing and keep your drivers and the public safe. Doing so can avoid any possible consequences that could slow your productivity and reflect poorly on your safety initiatives. Here are a few ways you can maintain or improve your CSA scores:
Increase and Improve Driver Training
Safety should always be your top priority as a company and that should be reflected in your drivers. The best place to relay your safety standards is with training programs. Teaching your drivers to be safe throughout their day will help eliminate the risk of potential issues in the future. Talk them through what is expected of them as drivers as well as their responsibilities to ensure that their trucks are in good running condition.
Establish Best Practices
It’s important that your company keeps up with updated regulations and continues to strive to run a safe operation. Many companies have processes in place to keep their employees updated and held accountable for their trucks. One process that seems to be common among companies is that drivers check their vehicles to ensure that they are complying with all regulations and looking for anything that may need to be fixed prior to going on the road. Continuing to update and enforce these processes will keep your drivers and vehicles prepared.
Hold Yourself Accountable
When violations occur, it’s important that you and your drivers are held accountable. Your drivers should understand why the violation has occurred and what they can do in the future to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. For instance, if a driver continuously has vehicle maintenance violations, then there may be a flaw in their pre-trip inspection process that is in place and they should be more attentive to their vehicle. This may also be an opportunity for maintenance shops to improve their processes as well. Accountability isn’t always a bad thing. While violations certainly must be addressed, drivers who do not receive violations should also be congratulated. Recognizing drivers who are doing well in their roles will show your appreciation while showing others that they can improve.
Disputing a Violation
There are times you may receive a violation that you don’t believe is just. In these cases you can dispute these violations with the state in a DataQ. By law, the state has to respond to your dispute. A DataQ is the appeal process to get the violation removed. To meet a resolution, you have to present the state with data and information why the violation is incorrect by providing them with supporting documentation, coding federal regulations. The process can be burdensome and timely but if you don’t police yourself with DataQ you can be cited for a violation that you don’t deserve. In the end, preserving your CSA score will be worth the encumbrance of the process.
Find a Transportation Partner
Operating a private fleet can be a lot for a company to take on. To avoid the substantial capital expense, liability, and risk associated with running their own trucks, shippers may choose to outsource their transportation operation. In these instances, the company no longer has a CSA score associated with their business and relies on their carrier to comply with the FMCSA. Outsourcing these operations will allow companies to focus more on their core business while 3PL’s can focus on optimizing and improving their transportation operation. 3PL’s are often more experienced in conducting a safe operation and have the right procedures in progress to be successful.
The government and the transportation industry will continue to find ways to make the roads safer. As regulations are made, it’s important that shippers and carriers comply to enforce the safety of their drivers and the general public. Understanding CSA scores and prioritizing safety will make for safe and successful operations.