Trucking Playing it Safe: Tips to Keep Your Carrier’s CSA Scores Low

August 31, 2016

Safety is always the number one focus at Shepherd for our motor carriers and their drivers. We provide the most up to date Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) which is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) program designed to improve large truck and bus safety and prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities related to commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) on our nation’s roads. CSA assigns scores based on safe and unsafe carrier and driver behaviors. These scores affect our clients and their drivers as unsafe drive behaviors that lead to crashes are identified and addressed, safety-based roadside inspections violation count toward CSA scores and drivers are more accountable for safe on-road performance, which is good news for drivers with strong safety performance records. Drivers should stick to the BASICs to ensure low CSA scores.

The Vehicle Maintenance BASIC

The Vehicle Maintenance Compliance Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) is one of seven categories that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses to determine how a motor carrier ranks relative to other carriers in its Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) initiative. As a driver, your performance directly affects your carrier’s CSA ranking.

This BASIC includes violations related to properly maintaining a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and to prevent shifting loads, spilled or dropped cargo and overloading of a CMV.

Proper maintenance includes, among other things, ensuring that lamps and reflectors are working and tires are not worn. Examples of roadside safety violations that may cause a motor carrier to rank poorly in this BASIC include operating an out-of-service (OOS) vehicle or operating a vehicle with inoperative brakes, lights and/or other mechanical defects and failure to make required repairs. Improper load securement and cargo retention violations are also examples of roadside violations included in this BASIC.

The Vehicle Maintenance BASIC Basics

All roadside inspection violations that pertain to a BASIC are assigned a severity weight that reflects the violation’s association with crash occurrence and crash consequences. The violation severity weights are assigned on a 1 to 10 scale, where 1 represents the lowest crash risk and 10 represents the highest crash risk relative to the other violations in the BASIC. For example, in the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, no pre-trip inspection is assigned a weight of 4, failing to secure cargo is assigned a weight of 1 and operating an OOS vehicle is assigned a weight of 10.

All safety-based roadside inspections count, not just OOS violations. Roadside inspections can occur at any time, so be prepared!


Keeping Scores Low

There are major benefits to keeping your carrier’s Vehicle Maintenance BASIC scores low. Not only does it help keep your rig in service and on the road as much as possible, lower scores mean fewer accidents and safer roads, as well as lower insurance costs. Here are some tips to keep those scores as low as possible:

Know the nine components that need to be inspected daily in order to drive a CMV:

  • Service brakes, including trailer brakes
  • Parking (hand) brake
  • Steering mechanism
  • Tires
  • Lighting devices and reflectors
  • Horn
  • Windshield wiper(s)
  • Rear-vision mirror(s)
  • Coupling devices

You may not leave without inspecting these parts first!

  • Inspect your seat belt, fire extinguisher, mud flaps, tie downs, fluid levels, etc. Everything counts!
  • Immediately report any maintenance problems to dispatch or the proper supervisor. Never assume a truck will “be just fine” if there is a maintenance issue.
  • Pay close attention during maintenance meetings. There are a lot of moving parts on your rig and you should be able to recognize and diagnose many maintenance issues.
  • Store extra components in the truck, including bulbs, fuses, reflective tape, wiper blades, etc.
  • NEVER operate a CMV that has been placed OOS.
  • If there is an erroneous violation on your record, appeal it! If you have a good basis for the appeal (GPS records proving your speed at the time of a violation, for example), there is a good chance it can be expunged from the record.

How Do You Measure Up?

Under the CSA, individual CMV drivers are not assigned safety ratings or Safety Fitness Determinations (SFDs). You can check your motor carrier’s scores by visiting the Safety Measurement System website.

You can check your crash and inspection history on the FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program website.

Contact Shepherd Insurance

For more information on how CSA affects drivers, contact Shepherd Insurance today (click for office locations).


Source: Zywave, Inc.