By: Adam H. Rosenblum Esq. | Last Updated:
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.
|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|
|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||7|
|Failing to use seat belt while operating a CMV||7|
|Operating a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle while all other occupants are not properly restrained.||7|
|Failure to obey traffic control device||5|
|Following too close||5|
|Improper lane change||5|
|Failure to Maintain Lane||5|
|Railroad Grade Crossing violation||5|
|Failure to yield right of way||5|
|Scheduling a run which would necessitate the vehicle being operated at speeds in excess of the prescribed||5|
|Failure to stop at railroad crossing – Bus transporting passengers||5|
|Failure to stop at railroad crossing – CMV transporting Division 2.3 Chlorine||5|
|Failure to stop at railroad crossing – CMV requiring display of HM placards||5|
|Failure to stop at railroad crossing – HM Cargo Tank vehicle||5|
|Commercial Vehicle failing to slow down approaching a railroad crossing.||5|
|Failed to use caution for hazardous condition||5|
|Using or equipping a CMV with radar detector||5|
|State/Local Laws – Speeding 6-10 mph over limit||4|
|Headlamps – Failing to dim when required||3|
|Lane Restriction violation||3|
|Operating a Motor Coach or other Passenger Carrying vehicle with seating, secured or unsecured, in excess of the manufacturer’s designed seating capacity||1|
|Unlawfully parking and/or leaving vehicle in the roadway||1|
|Failing to use hazard warning flashers||1|
|Unauthorized passenger on board CMV||1|
|Unsafe bus operations||1|
|All standees on a bus are to be rearward of the white standee line||1|
|State/local laws ordinances regulations||1|
|Smoking within 25ft. of HM vehicle||1|
|Driving of vehicles – Transportation of Migrant Workers||1|
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.