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We’ve received a lot of questions from the BigRoad community about CSA scores. With numerous changes resulting from the FAST Act, CSA scores have become top-of-mind once again, for everyone in the industry, from drivers to fleet owners. The most common question we get is: how do I improve my CSA score? Start by getting back to BASICs!

Understanding the BASICs
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The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) determines your safety and compliance performance through the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). Your BASICs information is obtained from roadside inspection, crash reports, and investigation results. As covered in our blog last week, the majority of categories are publicly visible as part of the FMCSA Safety Measurement System (SMS) program. Hazardous Materials Compliance and Crash Indicator information is not publicly visible online. These categories can only be viewed by:

  • Motor carriers that are logged into their own account, can see their own results
  • Enforcement agents that are logged in

Why BASICs are Important
GoodDriver.jpgPerformance in the BASICs isn’t just about you - it’s about your fleet too. How you perform in these categories illustrates your overall commitment to safety and compliance as an individual driver. However, violations and issues, as a result of your driving, has an impact your company’s overall SMS result. 

Poor performance by drivers can lead to companies being flagged and targeted by FMCSA for intervention. This is why some companies use the FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) prior to hiring a new driver. The PSP shows a driver’s five-year crash and three-year inspection history which gives a good indication of driver habits. 

What Are the BASICs?
Here are the BASICs categories that the FMCSA uses as part of the SMS:

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

Tips for Improving in Each Category

    1. Unsafe Driving - Avoid unsafe driving habits including speeding, improper lane changes, failing to use indicators, talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, and reckless driving.
    2. Driver Fitness - Check to make sure drivers have the proper licenses, are carrying required paperwork, and continue to receive training.
    3. Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance - This is the easiest category to improve in. You’re probably already in a good position here, especially if you’re using the BigRoad Mobile App to track your hours of service (the app does most of the work for you). Make sure your staff is trained on HOS rules and abide by them including not driving over your hours and taking breaks.
    4. Vehicle Maintenance - Another easy category to improve in. Make sure your vehicles are properly maintained by ensuring vehicle inspections are completed pre- and post-trip. This is another feature that is easily completed by using the BigRoad Mobile App.
    5. Controlled Substances/Alcohol - Seems like common sense, but remind drivers not to misuse controlled substances or consume alcohol prior to or while driving. Even over-the-counter and prescription medication can impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle. Also having alcohol in your cab, open or not, is a violation.
    6. Hazardous Materials Compliance (Not Public) - You should give special attention when transporting hazardous materials. Due to the dangerous nature, ensure you’re complying with the specific rule set for these materials including proper packaging, labelling, and placards.
    7. Crash Indicator (Not Public) - Although it’s not public, this is a very important category as negative results can have detrimental impacts. Watch for patterns around all crashes your drivers are involved in. Map out what contributed to the crashes, create a plan to address common behaviors that you identify, and work to prevent these issues in the future.


Transforming your CSA score won’t happen overnight. But if you complete the steps listed above, you’ll be on the path to compliance in no time! 

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