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Why You Can't Ignore Your FMCSA Safety Data
Mariah Barr
6 mins read

Your CSA score can determine the difference between operating a safe fleet and paying top dollar for insurance premiums.

We've discussed Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores on the blog before, but there are still too many transportation companies that fail to regularly monitor their scores.

As a DOT-regulated carrier, it's your duty to remain compliant. Following federal safety regulations not only helps keep you in business from a legal standpoint, but it also helps your business succeed. You can remain fine-and-violation-free while building up a strong, steady, reliable company with trusted, satisfied partners.

A crucial element of this is maintaining a low profile and avoiding extra scrutiny from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Specifically, one of your top goals should be to stay off FMCSA risk-based priority lists.

Where companies land on these lists is based on their safety data, but no matter where they rank, they're flagged to be selected first for DOT safety audits.

Your Priority? Don't Be a Priority for FMCSA Safety Audits.

Much as the name suggests, FMCSA priority lists identify companies that pose varying levels of safety risk based on past audit results, overall performance, and safety ratings calculated by the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scoring program.

Although the CSA program may be subject to change, it remains an important source for the FMCSA in determining safety and compliance.

To calculate their unique CSA scores, companies are ranked in seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) based on roadside and crash inspection data, intervention history, and violation status.

As a refresher, the BASICs include:

  • Unsafe Driving
  • Crash Indicator
  • Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance 
  • Vehicle Maintenance 
  • Controlled Substances/Alcohol
  • Hazardous Materials Compliance
  • Driver Fitness

Companies are grouped by BASIC with others with a similar number of safety events, then assigned a percentile from 0 to 100, prioritizing them for interventions. The higher the percentile, the worse the performance. 

Companies can be assigned “High Risk,” “Moderate Risk,” Risk,” “Monitor,” or “Warning Level” based on their failure to meet acceptable BASIC thresholds. The most serious is “High Risk,” resulting from two or more consecutive months at or above the 90th percentile for several BASICs. These companies are subject to immediate action and will be investigated by the FMCSA within 90 days of their assignment to the prioritization list.

High CSA scores are red flags for the FMCSA — and the more your business is audited, the more you are likely to continue being audited until you correct issues found by the FMCSA. 

Top 2023 FMCSA Violations that Impact CSA Scores

Here are the top FMCSA violations of 2023 (so far) that negatively impact performance in the BASIC categories.

Driver Qualification Violations

  1. Inquiries into driving record not kept in driver qualification file​

  2. Failing to maintain a driver qualification file on each driver​

  3. Incomplete or no employment application

Drug & Alcohol Testing Violations

  1. Using a driver before receiving a pre-employment result​

  2. Using an unqualified driver (due to a positive or refused drug test)​

  3. Failing to implement an alcohol and/or drug testing program

Hours of Service Violations

  1. False reports of records of duty status​

  2. Not using the appropriate method to record hours of service​

  3. Requiring or permitting a driver to drive after 15 hours on duty

Vehicle Maintenance Violations

  1. Failing to have a means of indicating maintenance due dates​

  2. Failing to keep a maintenance record identifying the vehicle​

  3. Using a CMV that is not periodically inspected

The main takeaway? Be diligent with your CSA safety and violation data. 

Get more information about CSA scores in our new webinar, CSA Scores: The Secrets to Risk Prevention for 2024

Track Your Safety & Compliance Data with CSA Monitor

Knowing where you stand with the FMCSA isn't easy, and finding time to manually check your CSA score is nearly impossible when you have a fleet of drivers and trucks to manage.

With Foley’s CSA Monitor, you get a 360-degree view of your fleet with daily insights you can access right from your email inbox. You can easily view critical data that includes all updated CSA violations, compliance scores, crash reports, violation reports, and more.

You can then use this data to monitor fleet performance, understand your drivers, and manage risk — all of which can turn into fewer accidents, lower insurance premiums, and reduced chances of FMCSA safety audits. 

Get the safety and compliance data your business needs, right at your fingertips. Request a FREE demo of Foley's CSA Monitor now, or fill out the form below to get started.

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