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Decoding 7 BASICs of FMCSA CSA score by eform2290

Last Updated on  May 14, 2024  By  eformblogadmin
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Skill and Safety- these are two factors that dictate the success of a driver’s career. While these two seem two separate entities, in the trucking industry both are related. You are not a skilled driver if you don’t score well on the safety protocols. These safety scores are the FMCSA CSA-  Compliance, Safety and Accountability scores calculated through Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Safety Measurement System (SMS). Let’s understand in detail how these scores are calculated, the parameters on which these driver’s are evaluated under this system, what’s a good and a bad score and how you can improve them.

How are CSA scores calculated

FMCSA CSA scores are calculated using data from roadside inspections, traffic enforcement activities, and crash reports collected over the preceding 24 months. These scores consider various factors, such as the count and seriousness of violations and crashes associated with the fleet, as well as their recency. The more severe and recent the incident, the worse the score. Additionally, the size of the carrier, including factors like the number of trucks and miles driven, are taken into account when evaluating these factors.


Safety is paramount when driving, it’s non-negotiable. Safety of the driver and others on the road is the intent behind having this process in place. The carriers receive a CSA score on the basis of seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).

Unsafe Driving

Speeding, improper lane change, not wearing a seatbelt, texting or calling, or any other careless or dangerous activities while driving could bring your score down under this category.

Crash Indicator

This is determined by the severity and frequency of crashes. As per DOT, this data is fetched from the state-reported crash report. Severe crashes that result in any fatal injury requiring a treatment away from the site, casualty, or vehicle damage that needs a towaway, all come under this category of BASIC.

Hours of Service Compliance

This category of BASIC follows the Records of Duty Status (RODS) for the HOS requirement and the management of CMV Driver Fatigue. If carriers operate their vehicles more than their allotted HOS or manipulate the RODS to reduce their total service hours, they are not complying with the HOS BASIC.

Controlled Substances and Alcohol

This BASIC guarantees adherence to DOT CSA regulations concerning drug and alcohol testing. Carriers who have a good score in this BASIC have no violations related to their drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) while under the influence of alcohol, illegal substances, or misused medications.

Vehicle Maintenance

The pre-trip and post-trip inspection of the truck is a necessity to ensure it is safe to run on the road and perform to its potential. Failing to maintain the CMV properly- brake pads, lights, engine and improper load securement may result in violation under this category.

Hazardous Materials Compliance

This truck compliance category of CSA requires special attention. It is crucial to properly pack, mark, label, load and secure the hazardous goods. Unsafe handling of these goods such as improper documentation, release of hazardous substances from the load, absence of placards and markings puts the carrier at risk of violation.

Driver Fitness

The motor carriers are responsible to ensure that the documentation and qualification files of their drivers are complete, accurate and up-to-date. These files must include essential documents for each driver such as valid commercial driver's licenses (CDLs), medical certificates, state driving records, annual driving record, and employment applications. Notably, the Driver Fitness BASIC does not factor in body mass index (BMI), weight, or neck size.

A Good CSA Score

100/100 may be a perfect score otherwise, but in CSA terms, getting a zero in each of the seven categories. Yes, having no CSA score is the perfect CSA score. This means either you have not had any roadside inspections or did not have violations in the inspections. To keep it simple, the closer your score is to zero, the better it is for you!

Each of the categories in BASIC have a percentile range of 0-100%. If your motor carrier has 0% you are good, if it is 100%, other trucking companies have a better CSA score than you.

Improving FMCSA CSA Score

Here are ways you can improve CSA score:


If you do not receive any further violations, CSA scores get better with time. The SMS is structured so that violations incurred by your trucking company gradually carry less weight over time. Specifically, violations become less impactful at the 6-month, 12-month, and 24-month marks.

Avoid violations

The most effective and efficient method for enhancing your CSA scores moving forward is by preventing new violations.

Regular Maintenance

Ensure each truck in your fleet undergoes regular maintenance and safety inspection.

Hiring and training of drivers

To Keep a tab on the documents and records to ensure the information is complete and up-to-date. If you are hiring a new driver, review the PSP records thoroughly. Utilize an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) to monitor hours and driving behavior trends. If recurring issues arise, conduct targeted training sessions on those matters.


Maintaining a good CSA Score is not difficult. Staying on top of your maintenance and safety game can help you achieve and maintain a perfect score. Pre and post inspections, hiring efficient drivers and training keeps BASIC violations at bay.