There are a lot of trucks and vehicles that are on the road every single day and a lot of responsibility falls on them when it comes to the safety of everybody that’s a part of the traffic. That is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA takes care of people’s safety by lowering the number of accidents and fatalities with large vehicles.
Their efforts produced the CSA program which means Compliance, Safety, and Accountability program. With this program, the FMCSA wants to make sure that fleets are reliable and safe on the roads, which is why the CSA score is of great importance. In the case of CSA, the lower your score is the better for you. Many businesses and potential business partners look at the CSA score closely. CSA scores are calculated 0-100 percentiles, with 100 being the worst score.
Seven BASIC categories contribute to the overall CSA score of your fleet, and some of them are easier to be influenced than others. Those categories are:
- Unsafe Driving— under this category fall things like speeding, texting while driving, speaking on the phone, inattention, etc.
- Crash Indicator— this BASIC refers to historical data of crushes and their severity and frequency
- Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance— this BASIC is about drivers being awake, alert, and have a quick response to the situations. It forbids operating when sick or fatigued.
- Vehicle Maintenance— this BASIC takes into consideration the state of which the vehicle is in, inspections, regular maintenance, defects, and repairs.
- Controlled Substances/Alcohol— this category addresses the misuse of drugs, alcohol or other substances that can cause impairment during operating with the vehicle. Possessing bottles and other containers of these substances is a violation.
- Hazardous Material Compliance—this BASIC regulates hazardous materials and imposes regulations on tanks, loading/unloading, leakage, etc.
- Driver Fitness— this category is all about the record of the driver and his qualifications. He needs to have licenses, medical certificates, and other documents that are all up to date.
If you are looking for a way to improve your CSA score, try the following tips:
· Start with making changes in the overall corporate culture— a big portion of the CSA scores depends on the overall corporate culture that your business has. Make it a habit to often discuss the importance of the BASICS and why do drivers need to be compliant with them. Communicating these important standards, and communicating them well can make a huge difference in the CSA scores.
· Pay more attention to the hiring process—if you want to have better CSA scores, make sure that you are hiring people that are less likely to violate them. Your employees should possess some basic abilities like filing paperwork, being able to answer questions to officers in English, being able to speak with DOT officers, etc.
· Keep your employees educated—keeping your employees in the loop about the CSA initiatives and any new requirements that come up is as important as choosing the right employees. There are many cases where drivers know about the CSA score, but don’t understand it completely to make a difference. Make sure that you point out your expectations when it comes to complying with the CSA BASICs.
· Do regular maintenance—simple violations like those related to the vehicle’s lights are awarded from two to six points from ten possible, which means that simple issues with maintenance can add up to your CSA score. If you are focused on keeping your fleet’s CSA scores on the down low, implementing some preventative maintenance programs that include pre and post travelling inspections can help you out a lot.
· Study and understand what top violations mean—even though there are seven BASICs categories, not all of the violations within them are equal when it comes to seriousness. For this purpose, you need to make sure that you understand which ones are the top violations that would increase your CSA score fast and drastic. Some of them are defects with the lights or reflective devices, having a damaged windshield, faulty brakes on the truck, faulty turn signals, etc.
· Fight the incorrect violations— it is not unusual that sometimes you will receive wrong or unfair violations that will increase your CSA score. If this happens, make sure that you know how to react and challenge the incorrect violations.
· Take advantage of your ELDs— ELDs can provide a lot of information that can be used for improving your fleet’s CSA scores. Both drivers and dispatchers should pay attention to things like approaching driving limits since one of the often things that inspectors check is driving out-of-service.
· Pay special attention to the brakes—usually, during Brake Safety Week the CSA scores are increasing substantially. There are many campaigns where law enforcement makes roadside inspections on brake functionality since it is of crucial importance for the safety of everybody involved in the traffic. Even though it is that important, a lot of times brakes are overlooked during the pre-travel inspections. Brake violations are one of the most common violations that are harming the CSA scores, not to mention putting everybody on the road in danger.
· Medical violations—many of the stopped drivers for inspections are not carrying their valid medical certificate which results in increased CSA score. Even though, these types of violations do not carry a lot of penalty CSA points it is a violation that can be very easily avoided. Also, if a driver is manoeuvring the vehicle while being medically incapable of doing so, it is considered to be a very serious violation that can increase the CSA score by a whole 10 points immediately. As a fleet manager, you should make sure that you pay attention to the expiration dates of your drivers’ medical cards, and make sure they are frequently updated.
Some penalties are ought to happen when you’re in charge of big fleets of trucks that are often operating. However, taking all the steps necessary to take those violations to a minimal is in everybody’s best interest.
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