What Is a CSA Score? Everything You Need to Know to Improve Yours
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Maintaining fleet safety requires a combination of training, scoring, and compliance guidance. These safety measures allow you to recognize dangerous behaviors and prevent hazardous driving. CSA scores and FMCSA compliance requirements give you the opportunity to see and improve your fleet’s performance.   

The CSA program helps to classify the performance of fleet carriers by utilizing a ranking scale. This allows you to gather important analytics on fleet behavior, informing safety protocols and preventative measures.  

If you’re curious about what exactly a CSA score is and how to improve your fleet’s performance, read on to learn everything you need to know about CSA scores and fleet safety best practices

What Is a CSA Score? 

A CSA score is a percentile ranking used to compare and identify high-risk motor carriers and drivers. This data helps to inform fleet behavior and individual safety performance.  

CSA stands for Compliance, Safety, and Accountability. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) assigns CSA scores to identify risky driving behavior. Along with CSA regulations, FMCSA imposes a variety of additional compliance regulations such as: 

  • HOS (hours of service), to address requirements around staying alert. 
  • ELD (electronic logging devices), which establishes the data fleets should track. 
  • DVIR (driver’s vehicle inspection report), to document missing or unsafe equipment. 

It’s important to follow these compliance rules, and track and analyze the driver data to inform decisions around safety protocols. Following these regulations will also improve your fleet’s driving score, increasing driver performance and making the road a safer place. 

If you have an uphill battle regarding safety practices within your organization, listen to this episode of The Straight Talk on Fleet. Host Erin Gilchrist Rugg will arm you to change hearts and minds on your team, taking safety from a way they work to the way they work. 

Straight Talk on Fleet Podcast: Building a Culture of Safety

What Is a Good vs. Bad CSA Score? 

CSA scores are calculated on a percentile scale from zero to 100, with zero indicating the best performance and 100 indicating the worst. This percentile score determines whether a CSA score is good or bad. 

The FMCSA considers fleet scores higher than 65% unsafe and may result in warning letters or an investigation—though the percentage deemed good or bad depends on the category scored, such as driver fitness or hazardous materials. 

CSA scores are for motor carriers, and drivers don’t receive an individual score. Instead, all driver violations get assigned to the fleet they represent. For drivers, Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) records are available which provides a basis for individual scores. 

To check your current fleet CSA score, log into the FMCSA SMS website and provide your US DOT# or MC#. Once logged in, you review safety compliance problems represented by warning symbols. Examples of roadside safety violations that may cause a motor carrier to rank inadequately include speeding, reckless driving, and improper lane change. 

What’s Included in a CSA Score? 

There are many aspects that factor into a CSA carrier score. To represent all these aspects, the FMCSA created the acronym “BASIC”, which stands for Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category. The seven BASICs that are scored include: 

CSA Score driving categories


  1. Unsafe driving, including texting, speeding, and recklessness. 
  1. Crash indicator, to identify historical patterns that commonly result in incidents. 
  1. HOS (hours of service) compliance, to address requirements around staying alert, awake, and responsive. 
  1. Vehicle maintenance, including pre and post-trip inspections, vehicle defects, and repairs. 
  1. Controlled substances, to address the misuse of alcohol, illegal drugs, and over-the-counter and prescription medications. 
  1. Hazardous materials compliance, to regulate tank specification testing, loading, and leakage. 
  1. Driver fitness, to ensure driver qualification files are complete and current. 

It’s important to be aware of regulatory requirements, including both obvious behaviors—such as wearing seatbelts—and subtle behaviors—such as hard braking and distracted driving. 

Common Violations that Elevate CSA Scores 

These items below are among the top ten ways drivers incur violations. They are all preventable with the right training and maintenance practices. 

  1. Speeding 
  1. Failure to use a seat belt 
  1. Unsafe tires 
  1. Damaged or discolored windshield 
  1. Inoperable required lamp 
  1. DUI or possession of alcohol 
  1. Hours of service 
  1. Operating without a CDL 
  1. Failure to secure cargo 
  1. Lane restriction violation 

How to Improve Your CSA Score 

If you’re looking to improve your CSA score, there are ways to boost your score. Always keep up to date on FMCSA motor carrier resources to understand how to interpret behavioral analytics. You can also follow these five steps to improve your safety protocols and enforce preventative actions and driver behavior. 

1. Follow FMCSA Compliance Requirements 

The best way to improve your CSA score is to follow and enforce FMCSA compliance requirements. This is especially true because the ELD mandate requires non-compliant vehicles to be taken out of service. 

To prevent any gaps in vehicle service, follow the seven compliance BASICs as well as HOS, ELD, and DVIR protocols. 

2. Hire the Right Drivers 

To prevent poor CSA scores, execute a thorough screening process to ensure drivers have a clean driving history. To do this, use PSP records to review individual driving history and crash reports.  

While participating in the PSP onboarding program is voluntary, it’s shown to improve crash rates by 8% and driver out-of-service rates by an average of 17%. This makes it an excellent step toward improving your CSA score. 

3. Create a Safety Training Program 

Implement the right fleet safety program elements to prevent incidents from occurring and maintain a good fleet CSA score. An effective training program includes:  

  • Safety guidelines, including training on driver fatigue, limits on consecutive shifts, and the benefits of a fleet safety certification.  
  • Accident response plan, including medical attention, investigation, and preventative measures.  
  • Risk analyses, to understand the cause of incidents and identify risky behavior.  

Additional safety tools to consider include AI video dash cams, which can reduce speeding violations by 60%, and in-cab driver coaching to monitor driver behavior. 

4. Maintain Your Fleet Vehicles 

Maintenance is a key part of fleet safety. To maintain your fleet, keep up to date on headlights, taillights, tires, and pre and post-trip inspections. These are common aspects that result in violations, making it essential to maintain each area.  

Vehicle maintenance pays dividends in the long run, preventing costly breakdowns and wear and tear which extends the life of vehicles. 

5. Use Driver Scorecards 

Driver scorecards work by identifying risky behavior. And when you identify this behavior, you can begin to correct it. This reduces accidents and improves insurance rates. Scorecards give you important insight into hazardous actions such as speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking.  

Scorecards also help to engage drivers, increasing the likelihood of driver buy-in and competition. This sense of motivation incentivizes drivers to improve their scores by driving safely and avoiding risky behavior. 

Creative: Cover image from new blog How to Improve Your CSA Score. Copy: Ready to take action? This article will give you strategies and actions you can take TODAY! Link: Not yet available. 

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