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CSA Rankings – How Do They Decide Where You Rank?


We all know about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s safety compliance and enforcement program (CSA). But…do you know what’s involved in the ranking process? A lot of people don’t! We’ve broken it down for you so you can keep an eye on your score and achieve your CSA goals. 

CSA Recap
CSALogo.pngCSA stands for Compliance, Safety, Administration. This program is operated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The purpose of the program is to hold motor carriers and drivers responsible for their role in keeping our roads safe. 

CSA identifies motor carriers and owner operators with safety related issues, ranks them among their peers, and prioritizes them for intervention. Interventions range from warning letters to extensive investigations. Drivers are impacted as well – their safety and compliance performance impacts their personal safety record and their employer’s overall safety record. 

Identifying Potential Safety Issues
As part of CSA, the FMCSA uses their Safety Measurement System (SMS) to identify potential safety issues by reviewing on-road performance (roadside inspections and crash reports) and investigation results (violations discovered within the last 12 months).

This information is organized into seven Behaviour Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs):

  1. Unsafe Driving
  2. Crash Indicator (Not Public)
  3. Hours of Service Compliance
  4. Vehicle Maintenance
  5. Controlled Substances/Alcohol
  6. Hazardous Materials Compliance (HM) (Not Public)
  7. Driver Fitness


Detailed factsheets for each of the seven categories can be found here. Measurement in each BASIC is based on the following:

  • The number of safety violations and/or inspections
  • The severity of safety violations and/or crashes
  • If a safety violation has occurred, recent events are weighted more heavily
  • The number of trucks/buses a carrier operates
  • The number of vehicle miles travelled across the fleet
  • Acute and critical violations found during investigations

Score.jpgAfter a carrier has been measured in the BASICs, they are placed into groups with peers that have had a similar number of safety events (crashes, inspections, and violations) and are compared. This makes the ranking system as fair as possible. 

A percentile from 0 to 100 is assigned based on rankings within the group. Unlike in a video game – you don’t want to get the high score! The higher the percentile, the worse the performance of the carrier, and the higher your prioritization for intervention. 

Ways to Improve Your Performance
We host a lot of hours of service and compliance webinars. During these webinars, the most common question we get asked is, “How do I improve my CSA score?”.

  • Create a Culture of Safety
    First, and foremost, make safety and compliance a priority across your fleet. Provide training, keep up-to-date on regulations, and make safety part of your daily routine. It takes an entire team to improve your CSA score – from drivers to mechanics to fleet managers. Everyone plays an important role.

  • Monitor Your Scores and Ranking
    Keep on top of carrier performance by regularly checking your information. You can visit the SMS website and pull up a pretty detailed performance report.

  • StrengthWeakness.jpgKnow Your Weaknesses & Improve Them
    Everyone knows what they’re good at…but do you know where you need to improve?
    Start by determining what areas you and your team need to improve in and create achievable improvement goals. Remember – your score isn’t going to change overnight. It’ll take time but the benefits for a strong CSA score will be worth it! 
  • Celebrate Your Success
    Too often we focus on the negative and don’t take time to celebrate the positive. A little recognition goes a long way! Make sure to take time to celebrate your accomplishments, recognize individuals who’ve contributed to your success, and say thanks. A simple incentive program (cash, gift cards, swag) for clean inspections or a month with no violations is an easy place to start!

Get BigRoad Onboard
Our solutions have helped thousands of drivers and fleets transform the way they do business. From providing our free electronic logbook app that simplifies hours of service tracking to electronic logging device (ELD) mandate compliance, BigRoad can help you make safety and compliance a priority. Request a a demo and see how BigRoad can help you!