CSA Score Changes Every Fleet Manager Should Know

Recent changes made to Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) scores can increase the risk for fleets of racking up points for violations that previously did not result in points. The biggest change to CSA scores involves a violation for a driver who is unable to transfer information from an electronic logging device (ELD) to a law enforcement officer who conducts a roadside inspection.

It’s yet another regulatory change that fleet managers and drivers must keep track of, or risk officers giving drivers as much as a three-point violation or more during a routine inspection. It’s also an area where using advanced telematics systems can help fleets and drivers reduce the risk of problems.

What Are Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) Scores?

Fleet managers know about CSA scores, but it might be something some drivers do not know about, especially those new to the industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses CSA scores to evaluate and enforce safety regulations for commercial fleets.

The system uses data collected from roadside inspections, crash reports and other sources. The FMCSA uses this data to identify carriers that pose a potential safety risk to the public. CSA scores are based on how drivers and fleets do in seven different categories: unsafe driving, Hours of Service compliance, driver fitness, controlled substances and alcohol, vehicle maintenance, hazardous materials compliance, and crash indicators.

Fleets are evaluated on a 0-100 scale, with lower scores indicating better performance. Higher scores, on the other hand, suggest a significant potential safety risk. Consequently, the U.S. Department of Transportation may conduct additional inspections and assessments to ensure compliance with safety regulations.

Recent Changes in CSA Scoring 

The recent changes to the FMCSA SMS methodology – SMS stands for Safety Measurement System – went into effect in an update done in December 2022. One of the most notable changes is to Hours of Service (HOS) compliance.

If a driver does not have an ELD in his vehicle, they typically get five points adding to the CSA score from the inspection officer. However, with the regulatory change, they now face the potential of getting the same amount of points for not being able to transfer information from ELD to the officer.

They may get dinged for three points for failure to transfer, one point if they do not have instructions for how to do the transfer in their vehicle (which is typically the case for those who cannot do the transfer) and one point for failure to enter a file comment the officer requires.

This is especially an issue since points are based on the severity of the violation as determined by the inspecting officer. That also has changed, moving from a 1-10 scale to a simple 1 or 2 category, with 2 being the most severe. All violations will receive a 1, but if a driver has multiple violations, officers will score it as a 2.

Fleets also are compared against competitors in every FMCSA SMS category, meaning a fleet could get moved into alert status fairly quickly for a few Hours of Service violations. The fact that short-term haulers do not face the same level of Hours of Service regulation also can make that category especially troublesome for large fleets.

Solutions to CSA Score Challenges

To avoid getting CSA score points for an inability to transfer ELD data, it’s important to take a few steps that will help lower the risk of this happening, according to Randy Read, Senior Vice President of Partnership Development at EnVue Telematics.

  • The first step is to ensure that every driver in the fleet has the most up-to-date ELD device that records data required for compliance and allows for easy transfer to an inspecting officer during roadside inspections.
  • Drivers should get training on the use of ELD. They also should always carry an instruction sheet that shows them the steps for a successful transfer.
  • While there are a variety of ways to transfer information, the most common and preferred method is through wireless web services.
  • Other methods include email, which is less common that using wireless, or by connecting to a computer via USB or Bluetooth, which is not common.

An ELD system and a company that provides support after the sale can help set up these systems for commercial fleets. Other telematics devices and systems can help improve CSA scores in a variety of areas, from better training drivers on behind-the-wheel best practices to helping create a consistent maintenance schedule.

“Advanced tech tools and systems support fleet managers, allowing them to find ways to reduce risk and make operations more efficient,” said Read. “That includes lowering the risk of getting points during a roadside inspection. With the importance of CSA scores for fleets, tech tools can help keep fleets compliant and give them an advantage over the competition.” By taking action now to update your fleet’s ELD devices and properly train your drivers, you can significantly lower the risk of receiving CSA score points and avoid costly fines. Don’t wait until it’s too late – invest in your fleet’s safety and success today.

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