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How to Fix the Flawed CSA Scoring System

It is rare for the American Trucking Association (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) to agree wholeheartedly on much of anything. Their interests often diverge, and it creates legislative challenges. However, when it comes to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scoring system, the two industry titans agree—something has to give. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented the CSA system with the hopes of reducing unsafe drivers and fleets, the trucking community agrees it’s a flawed system.

Understanding the CSA BASICs

The CSA system relies on seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs):

  1. Unsafe driving
  2. Hours of Service (HOS)
  3. Driver fitness
  4. Controlled substances and alcohol abuse
  5. Vehicle maintenance
  6. Hazardous materials cargo
  7. Crash history

All violations count against the driver and carrier with some violations ranking as more severe than others do. Violation points range from 0-100; the lower the score, the safer the carrier. During CSA’s debut, most of these safety scores were available to the public, which is when the problems began for the trucking industry.

Flaws with the System

Two of the most prominent initial flaws industry insiders pointed out were:

  • Validity of certain BASICs. All crashes count against truck drivers; however, not all accidents are preventable. Truck drivers and fleets agree that causing accidents is a major safety concern, but accidents they did not cause or could not avoid still count against their safety score.
  • Violation stacking. Inspectors denote every violation they encounter; however, they often denote the same violation numerous times. One problem can cause numerous violations even though there is one root source. Instead of denoting one violation resulting in numerous issues, every single instance counts against the driver or fleet’s score.

One of the biggest issues the trucking industry had with CSA score, however, was that they were public. Given that they felt the scores weren’t accurate or fair, they believed the rankings were hurting their business. As part of the FAST Act, Congress required FMCSA to remove public access to CSA scores.

However, this is not a solution to the problem of unfair rankings. To address this, FMCSA announced they will begin testing a new way to calculate CSA scores starting in September of this year. They hope to address these inconsistencies and challenges drivers and fleets face with the existing scoring system. To learn more about regulatory changes affecting fleet safety, contact the transportation experts at AssuredPartners.