Drivers

How Does CSA Affect Small Carriers?

The size of the carrier is not a factor in deciding which carriers the FMCSA will investigate, but size is a factor in how carrier scores are calculated.

March 2013, TruckingInfo.com - WebXclusive

by Thomas Bray, Editor, J.J. Keller & Associates

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The scoring in the system is based on roadside inspections, violations listed on roadside inspection reports, and crash reports.
The scoring in the system is based on roadside inspections, violations listed on roadside inspection reports, and crash reports.

The first question that comes up in many discussions is, “What is CSA and what does it do?”

Despite all of the folklore that has been built around it, at its core, CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) is simply a program used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to track and evaluate carriers based on compliance and crash history. Carriers that do not score well in the system are the ones FMCSA will spend time warning or investigating.

The size of the carrier is not a factor in deciding which carriers the FMCSA will investigate, but size is a factor in how carrier scores are calculated.

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How the scoring works

The scoring in the system is based on roadside inspections, violations listed on roadside inspection reports, and crash reports. Violations are “valued” based on severity and time. The severity of a violation is based on its relationship to crash causation. Severity weighting uses a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being violations that have the closest relationship to crash causation.

The time factor involves multiplying the severity of a violation by a “time weight.” The severity for any event (inspection, violation, or crash) that has occurred in the last 6 months is multiplied by 3. If the event took place between 6 and 12 months ago, it is multiplied by 2. Events that took place between 12 and 24 months ago are multiplied by 1. Events over 24 months old are not used in the scoring.

In most of the Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), the total of all severity- and time-weighted violations is divided by the time-weighted inspections a carrier has undergone. This results in a “BASIC Measure” that reflects a “violation rate per inspection,” with severity and time factors considered.

Two of the BASICs, Unsafe Driving and Crash, use a different process for calculating the measures. It involves dividing the total of all severity- and time-weighted violations by the company’s power unit count that has been multiplied by a utilization factor. The utilization factor is based on the carrier’s average miles per power unit. The power unit count and mileage are taken from the carrier’s MCS-150s that have been on file over the last 18 months.

Once the BASIC Measures have been calculated, they are compared to other carriers’ BASIC Measures.

To start this comparison process, carriers are placed into “Safety Event Groups” in all of the BASICs. Depending on the BASIC, the groups are based on the number of violations, inspections, or crashes. The result is that small carriers are compared to small carriers and large carriers are compared to large carriers. The carrier with the best (lowest) measure in each group gets a “percentile rank,” or BASIC Score, of “0.” The carrier with the worst (highest) measure in the group gets a BASIC Score of “100.” All other carriers in the group will have a score in between these two extremes based on their BASIC Measure.

Carriers that do not perform well are the ones that are placed on the “intervention list,” and can expect the FMCSA to take action against them. The action can include a warning or an investigation.

Because the system uses DOT numbers as its basis, if you are an owner-operator operating under your own DOT number, all inspections and violations are scored directly against your DOT number. If you are leased onto another carrier and operate under that DOT number, your inspections and violations are scored under that DOT number.

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