NY Traffic Tickets and CSA Scores

Drivers and carriers alike lament the obtuseness and unfairness of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score. Every interstate carrier with a U.S. DOT number receives a CSA score, regardless of what type of carrier it is. This is also true of carriers headquartered in Canada and Mexico (although only U.S. infractions are tracked). A high CSA score can:

  • increase the company’s insurance rates
  • reduce business
  • result in more inspections

There are a lot of things that a carrier can do to keep it’s CSA score as low as possible. Ensuring proper maintenance on all vehicles is one. Carriers can also be diligent about making sure drivers do not log too many hours, and that each is properly licensed and trained for the vehicle he/she is driving.

One thing carriers have little control over is when a driver commits a traffic violation. When a CDL driver is convicted of a traffic ticket, it increases the carrier’s CSA. This is true even if the company opts to terminate the driver over the infraction! Exactly how much a ticket affects the CSA score depends on the type of violation. Serious infractions such as reckless driving and texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) are worth as much as 10 points.

 

Violation Severity Weight 
Texting While Operating a CMV When Transporting Select Agents or Toxins or HM Requiring Placarding  10 
Using a Handheld Mobile Phone While Operating a CMV When Transporting Select Agents or Toxins or HM Requiring Placard  10 
Operating a CMV while texting  10 
Reckless driving  10 
State/Local Laws – Speeding 15+ mph over limit 10 
State/Local Laws – Speeding work/construction zone 10 
State/Local Laws – Operating a CMV while texting  10 
Driving a commercial motor vehicle while Texting  10 
Using a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a CMV  10 
Allowing or requiring a driver to use a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a CMV  10 
State/Local Laws – Speeding 11-14 mph over limit 
Failing to use seat belt while operating a CMV 
Operating a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle while all other occupants are not properly restrained. 
Failure to obey traffic control device 
Following too close 
Inattentive Driving 
Improper lane change 
Failure to Maintain Lane 
Improper passing 
Railroad Grade Crossing violation 
Improper turns 
Failure to yield right of way 
Scheduling a run which would necessitate the vehicle being operated at speeds in excess of the prescribed 
Failure to stop at railroad crossing – Bus transporting passengers 
Failure to stop at railroad crossing – CMV transporting Division 2.3 Chlorine 
Failure to stop at railroad crossing – CMV requiring display of HM placards 
Failure to stop at railroad crossing – HM Cargo Tank vehicle 
Commercial Vehicle failing to slow down approaching a railroad crossing. 
Failed to use caution for hazardous condition 
Using or equipping a CMV with radar detector 
State/Local Laws – Speeding 6-10 mph over limit 
Headlamps – Failing to dim when required 
Lane Restriction violation 
Operating a Motor Coach or other Passenger Carrying vehicle with seating, secured or unsecured, in excess of the manufacturer’s designed seating capacity
Unlawfully parking and/or leaving vehicle in the roadway 
Failing to use hazard warning flashers 
Unauthorized passenger on board CMV 
Unsafe bus operations 
All standees on a bus are to be rearward of the white standee line 
State/local laws ordinances regulations 
Smoking within 25ft. of HM vehicle 
Driving of vehicles – Transportation of Migrant Workers 

 

How to Keep Traffic Tickets from Impacting a CSA Score

Carriers that want to keep their CSA score as low as possible would be well advised to hire an attorney to fight each and every traffic ticket issued to its drivers. It may be tempting to require drivers to pay their own traffic fines, rather than spend company money to get an attorney to beat the ticket. After all, the driver should be liable for his/her own mistake. But the CSA makes the driver’s mistake the carrier’s mistake by raising its score. Further, each traffic infraction affects the carrier’s CSA score for 24 months, regardless of how long such an infraction might remain on the driver’s license. That’s 24 months of potentially increased insurance premiums, increased inspections (which can turn up out-of-service notices and further raise the CSA), and reduced business.

Common Questions About CSA Scores

How large does a company have to be in order to be included in the CSA program?

The CSA is not dependent on company size. Any carrier with a DOT number gets a CSA score.

How long will a traffic ticket affect a carriers CSA score?

The SMS only includes data from the previous 24 months. FMCSA multiplies the violation severity weight by a time weight based on how long ago the violation was. Violations within the last six month have a time weight of 3; violations between 6 and 12 months old have a time weight of 2; violations between 12 and 24 months old have a time weight of 1.

Do traffic tickets issued against a driver in his/her personal vehicle count toward the CSA?

No. The CSA database only records violations noted on a roadside inspection report and that are related to an accident that take place while operating a commercial vehicle.

Can a carrier reduce its CSA by firing drivers with a lot of traffic tickets?

While a carrier is entitled to terminate a driver who has a lot of violations, doing so does not immediately lower the CSA. Traffic convictions and other violations that occur while operating under a carrier’s DOT number stay with that carrier for 24 months, even if the driver leaves or is fired before that time.

Does a driver’s existing CSA data get added to the carrier’s CSA data upon being hired?

Traffic convictions and other violations that took place before joining a carrier will not affect the carrier’s CSA.

If one of your drivers has received a traffic ticket in New York or New Jersey, contact an attorney to find out how to keep it from affecting your company’s CSA score. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law are skilled traffic ticket attorneys with experience helping CDL drivers and carriers keep CSA scores down. Email or call 888-883-5529 for a free consultation about your case.