As a trucker, one of the things that go along with the job is getting a CSA Score, or Comprehensive Safety Analysis. Since the 2010 revisions of the CSA act, the scores are now accessible to everyone. These scores are used as one of the deciding factors in the hiring and firing truck drivers. This can be a good thing, but many truckers find it an inconvenience that anyone can see their past and present CSA Scores.
These scores are based on how well you live up the BASIC standards.

\BASIC is Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories.  The categories of BASIC are unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, alcohol and drugs, vehicle maintenance, cargo securement, and crash history. When you receive an inspection, you’ll be evaluated according to these guidelines. Each BASIC generates a separate score and these are combined to give your CSA score. The scoring is done every month, so CSA can monitor whether the identified safety problems are improving. If you have a deficiency of 90 or higher in more than one category, it will likely launch an immediate investigation. If the deficiencies are not severe, intervention will follow progressive steps starting with a written warning.
There are 5 levels of inspections:
  • LEVEL I - Standard Inspection: The standard inspection includes examination of driver's license, medical examiner's certificate and waiver, alcohol and drugs, driver's record of duty, hours of service, seat belt, vehicle inspection report, brake system, coupling devices, exhaust system, frame, fuel system, turn signals, brake lamps, tail lamps, head lamps, lamps on projecting loads, safe loading, steering mechanism, suspension, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels and rims, windshield wipers, etc.
  • LEVEL II - Walk-Around Inspection: This is very similar to the standard inspection, but only includes things which can be inspected without physically getting under the vehicle.
  • LEVEL III - Driver-Only Inspection: This inspection covers the drivers paperwork and habits, such as a seat belt.
  • LEVEL IV - Special Inspections: This is a one-time examination of a particular item. These are normally made in to verify or refute a suspected violation.
  • LEVEL V - Vehicle-Only Inspection: This inspection includes each of the vehicle inspection items specified under the Level I inspection, but the driver does not need to be present.
  • LEVEL VI - Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments: This is an inspection for select radiological shipments, which include inspection procedures, and radiological requirements.
A good CSA Score can be a great marketing tool for your business. Having a documented history of safe driving is often one of the criteria people are looking for in the drivers they hire. Also, having a good CSA score can help you get better insurance rates and better sources for funding. On the contrary, a bad CSA Score could cause you to lose business, pay higher insurance premiums and make it harder to source capital for your business to grow or even operate.

Congress mandated the FMCSA’s new Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). CSA and PSP are related, but not exactly the same. PSP was the result of a 2005 congressional directive to make driver safety information available electronically for employment screening. Every commercial driver has a safety data record in PSP. That record includes five years of crash data and three years of roadside inspection records. Moving violations are not included. Motor carriers may review records only after the carrier receives the driver’s written authorization. If the driver feels that the information in their PSP record is not accurate, the driver may contest the data by visiting FMCSA’s DataQs online system. Drivers also have the right to get a free copy of their PSP data record from the carrier. Sole proprietor drivers can get their own PSP by paying a search fee.

Getting a good CSA Score is vital to the success of your business. Here are a few ways to help insure that you get the best CSA Score that you can.
  • Clean roadside inspections. This is the key to favorable scores under CSA. You should follow all safety rules and regulations, so get yourself a pocket version of the DOT regulations and check back on teamrunsmart.com regularly for DOT updates. Become familiar with how FMCSA will assess points under CSA.
  • Keep records of your inspection reports. Keep copies of all your inspection reports because every inspection affects your overall score. You can purchase a filing folder from Walmart for less than $10 to keep these organized with your other business papers (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Smead-Expanding-File-12-Pockets-Poly-Letter-Black-Blue/14917751), or a good idea might be to scan these reports and keep them saved on your computer in a folder.
  • Join an association. Every driver should have someone to turn to for help and advice when they need it. By being a member of Team Run Smart you have a community of business minded truckers who can give you advice and you can ask the Pro Drivers for guidance. You could also join an organization such as OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association) who fights for the rights of truckers or NASTC who helps small trucking companies control their costs.
  •  Update your Motor Carrier Form MCS-150. Some of the details on this form, such as how many trucks you have, how many miles you run, and your current e-mail address, are crucial to properly calculating your CSA score.
  • Be aware of the heavily weighted violations. Keep in mind that violations that fall under the “Unsafe Driving” and “Fatigued Driving” BASICs are heavily weighted and will red flag your carrier and ensure a visit from the DOT. And be sure to buckle up – driving without your seatbelt on will get you 7 points!
Getting a good CSA Score is vital to the success of your business. Stay informed and always follows the rules; risking a violation is just not worth it!

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Comment ()


Texas has really gotten to be a "hot spot for DOT. It seems that every little town has its own enforcement officers. I am surprized by the number of drivers that I talk to that dont even know how to adjust brakes.

December 31, 2012 2:55:31 AM

One of the best rules of thumb is to not do anything to cause a road side inspection. Keep the truck clean, the dash clean, wear our seat belts, keep the lights working, no speeding, no aggressive driving, pay attention to signs and what lane we need to be in. Once we are pulled over for even a mild violation it is easy for them to go ahead and do a road side inspection. Paying attention to the details pays off in the long run.

December 12, 2012 6:45:29 AM

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About Kaitlin Cathey

Kaitlin works at ATBS with the sales team. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, from Thomas Edison State College in NJ. She was born in Colorado, but has also lived in Maryland and Illinois. Her favorite things to do are running, reading, and creative writing.

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