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CSA...What is it and how is it determined?

May 14, 2016

CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) program has been in and out of the news for most of the past year. You may be wondering what this is all about and how it impacts you as a shipper. This is the first in a series of posts explaining:

  • What is CSA?
  • How it works.
  • Who’s affected?
  • What concerns have been raised about the program?
  • What’s happening with it now?

CSA-prt 1.jpg

What is CSA?

Launched in December 2010, CSA is FMCSA’s safety compliance and enforcement program. FMCSA is promoting safety compliance to help keep our Nation’s roadways safer for everyone. CSA is not a set of rules or regulations, but rather an initiative designed to improve the efficiency of FMCSA’s enforcement and compliance program. The aim of CSA is to measure carrier safety performance, identify potentially unsafe carriers, and prioritize them for enforcement interventions—all as part of FMCSA’s ultimate goal of reducing commercial motor vehicle crashes, fatalities, and injuries.

Under CSA, motor carrier violations, as determined primarily by roadside inspections and crash data, are placed into seven Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) as follows:


  • Unsafe Driving – Dangerous or careless operation of a vehicle including unsafe driving practices like speeding, improper land changes and failure to wear a seat belt
  • Crash Indicator – History of crash involvement based on state-reported crashes (not publicly available)
  • Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance – Incidents of vehicle operation by drivers who are ill, fatigued or in noncompliance with HOS regulations including driver log violations
  • Vehicle Maintenance – Mechanical defects and failure to make required repairs as well as improper load securing
  • Controlled Substance/Alcohol – Impaired driving through the use of alcohol, illegal drugs and misuse over the counter and prescription drugs
  • Hazardous Materials Compliance – Unsafe or incorrect handling of hazardous materials including leaking containers, improper placarding and missing shipping papers (not publicly available)
  • Driver Fitness – Vehicles operated by drivers who are unfit due to lack of training, experience or medical conditions

This system is used to assign safety ratings for carriers, based on their BASIC scores weighed against factors including size, violation frequency and severity, and how recently violations have occurred. All this data is then made available on the FMCSA’s Safety Management System (SMS) website which is updated monthly.

Reactions to the program, and the amount and type of safety data that it makes available, have been mixed.

Part 2 of this 4-part series will be posted on May 23rd. We will be discussing the point assignments involved in CSA score calculations. Stay tuned…

For assistance with any aspect of your shipping contact American Group at 1-866-553-6608 for a quote or to learn how we make Shipping.Simplified.