Blog Post

Why a Trucking Company Safety Score Matters

March 7, 2024 / Trucking Companies

Road safety is a significant concern for all, whether you’re a truck driver, a mini-van driver, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian. Over 5 million truck and bus drivers are sharing the space with more than 250 million motorists. Due to the heightened risk of serious damage and injuries in motor vehicle crashes involving large trucks, strict guidelines govern the trucking industry.

One crucial metric that sheds light on why a trucking company safety score matters is its Compliance Safety Accountability CSA score or Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASIC) percentile.

The CSA program has undergone extensive scrutiny recently, leading to numerous changes. Despite these modifications, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) continues to track scores.

The CSA program is designed to enhance the overall safety of trucks on the road. It serves as a mechanism that holds companies accountable for the condition of the trucks they operate and the drivers they employ.

What Is a CSA Score?

CSA scores constitute an integral component of the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). CSA scores represent percentiles determined by the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) for evaluating a carrier’s safety performance. These scores, allocated to carriers according to their safety performance, form an integral component of the CSA program.

The primary objective of this program is to proactively intervene to prevent accidents and ensure carriers adhere to established safety standards.

Using the SMS, the CSA program employs a method of monitoring and assessing various data points related to a carrier’s operations. They collect information from roadside inspections and crash reports spanning the past two years and data from its investigations to calculate a score. These data points are deemed indicative of a heightened risk of accidents.

CSA scoring is graded on a scale from zero to 100, with lower scores indicating better performance. These points are determined by assessing driving behavior against the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs).

How Are CSA Scores Calculated?

CSA scores are calculated using data from roadside inspections, traffic enforcement, and crash reports spanning the last 24 months. These scores consider various factors, such as the number and severity of violations and crashes attributed to the fleet and the age of these incidents. Events with greater severity and recent occurrences carry more weight in the scoring process. Additionally, these factors are considered in relation to the carrier’s size, including the number of trucks and miles driven.

Carriers are assigned a CSA score for each of the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs):

Unsafe Driving

This category focuses on the unsafe operation of a commercial motor vehicle, including behaviors such as speeding, texting, failure to wear a seatbelt, improper lane changes, reckless driving, and inattention. The evaluation considers these violations irrespective of whether state officials issued a citation or provided only a verbal warning.

Crash Indicator

According to the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) official SMS methodology, this BASIC relies on information from state-reported crashes meeting reportable standards. This includes incidents resulting in fatalities, injuries necessitating off-scene treatment, or vehicle damage sufficient to require towaway.

HOS Compliance

This BASIC assesses adherence to hours-of-service limitations (e.g., maximum driving time) and recordkeeping requirements, including the use of electronic logging devices.

Vehicle Maintenance

This BASIC evaluates compliance with vehicle maintenance and general condition requirements. Vehicle maintenance includes examining defects, pre-and post-trip inspections, and promptly repairing any identified issues. Additionally, it addresses standard maintenance concerns like malfunctioning brakes, lights, worn-out tires, and inadequate cargo securement.

Controlled Substances/Alcohol

This BASIC gauges compliance with regulations on drug and alcohol use, including prohibitions and employer obligations to conduct misuse testing. Drivers are deemed to have a controlled substance violation if they are discovered with alcoholic beverages in the cabin or fail an alcohol test. This category also encompasses the improper use of over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs.

Hazardous Materials Compliance

This BASIC measures compliance with regulations concerning the secure transportation of hazardous materials. It focuses on how the carriers mark, label, package, placard, and load cargo and possess the necessary paperwork for each shipment. It includes regulations on tank specification testing, attendance, leakage, and loading and unloading procedures.

Driver Fitness

This BASIC reflects compliance with regulations ensuring that drivers are “fit” to operate a vehicle. This involves meeting minimum qualifications related to age, medical condition, driver qualification files, commercial driver’s licenses, annual driving record reviews, medical certificates, compliant employment applications, and state driving records.

What Are the Safety Ratings?

Trucking companies and drivers are assigned one of three safety ratings: Satisfactory, Conditional, or Unsatisfactory.

1. Satisfactory Safety Rating

A Satisfactory safety rating represents the most favorable outcome for a trucking company or driver. It signifies the successful implementation of adequate and functional safety management controls to meet the safety fitness standard.

2. Conditional Safety Rating

A Conditional safety rating may be issued if there are non-compliances with certain safety protocols. While the company can continue to operate under this rating, it serves as a cautionary signal for potential customers, insurance agents, and creditors.

3. Unsatisfactory Safety Rating

An unsatisfactory safety rating indicates a failure by the trucking company or driver to adhere to safety protocols. Upon receiving this rating, the company has a 45- to 60-day window to implement necessary improvements to continue operations.

Why Is a CSA Score Important?

A carrier’s CSA scores indicate its adherence to federal safety regulations. A satisfactory score can significantly decrease the likelihood of interventions, such as roadside inspections and on-site audits.

Maintaining consistently low CSA scores offers several advantages, including:

  • Reduced DOT audits and roadside inspections
  • Enhanced opportunities to bypass weigh stations
  • Lower insurance rates
  • A favorable reputation in the industry.

Choosing drivers with good safety records is crucial to achieving and sustaining a positive CSA score.

Steps to Take After a Truck Accident

Below are essential steps to take after a truck accident to help you protect your well-being, gather necessary information, and navigate the process of seeking compensation.

1. Prioritize Safety

The first and foremost concern is safety. Check yourself and others for injuries, and, if possible, move to a safe location away from the road. Activate hazard lights, set up warning triangles, or use other available signals to alert oncoming traffic to the accident scene.

2. Seek Medical Attention

Even if injuries initially seem minor, seeking medical attention promptly is crucial. Some injuries may not be immediately visible, and a medical professional can provide a thorough examination. Documenting injuries is vital not only for your health but also for any future legal claims.

3. Contact Law Enforcement

Call the police to report the accident. Having an official police report is essential. Provide the officers with a detailed account of the accident, and be sure to obtain a copy of the report for your records.

4. Exchange Information

Exchange insurance details, contact information, and vehicle registration information with the truck driver and any other parties involved in the accident. Collect witnesses’ names and contact information, as their statements may be crucial in determining fault later on.

5. Document the Scene

Take pictures of the accident scene, including the vehicles involved, any damage sustained, and relevant road conditions. These pictures can be valuable evidence during insurance claims or legal proceedings.

6. Preserve Evidence

Preserve any evidence of the accident, including repair estimates, medical records, and correspondence with insurance companies. These documents can be instrumental in building a strong case for compensation.

7. Notify Your Insurance Company

Report the accident to your insurance company immediately. Provide them with accurate and detailed information about the incident. Be cautious about discussing fault until you have consulted with legal counsel.

8. Consult With an Attorney

Contact a truck accident attorney immediately. An attorney can provide guidance on your rights, assess the strength of your case, and help you navigate the complex legal processes involved in seeking compensation.

If you need support during an Indiana truck accident case, don’t hesitate to contact us at (317) 680-2350. We can guide you through every step of the way.

How Our Indiana Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help

After a truck accident, victims often grapple with physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial burdens. Navigating the legal complexities can be overwhelming, making the assistance of a specialized legal team crucial. Stephenson Rife Truck Accident Attorneys stand out as advocates with the expertise and experience needed to help strengthen your case and pursue the compensation you deserve.

  1. Thorough Investigation: Building a strong case requires a comprehensive investigation. This involves collecting and analyzing evidence from the accident scene, reviewing trucking company records, and examining the driver’s history. We can build a compelling case on your behalf by uncovering crucial details.
  2. Determining Liability: Proving liability in truck accident cases can be complex, often involving multiple parties such as the truck driver, trucking company, maintenance providers, and more. Our attorneys are skilled in identifying and holding all potentially liable parties accountable. This strategic approach ensures that you pursue compensation from all relevant sources.
  3. Negotiation Skills: Truck accident cases frequently involve negotiations with insurance companies and other parties. Our attorneys are adept negotiators who can effectively communicate your case’s merits and seek fair compensation. Our experience in dealing with insurance adjusters and legal representatives ensures that you have a strong advocate working on your behalf.
  4. Litigation Expertise: In cases where negotiations do not lead to a satisfactory resolution. We are prepared to take your case to court. With a proven track record in litigation, our attorneys have the skills and resources to present a compelling case before a judge and jury, fighting for the compensation you deserve.

Contact Stephenson Rife for Authoritative Guidance Today

The importance of a motor carrier safety score cannot be overstated. These scores are a barometer of a company’s commitment to safety, impacting not only its operations but the overall well-being of our roads.

If you or your loved one has been in a truck accident in Indianapolis and need legal representation, contact us at (317) 680-2350 for a free consultation.

Attorney Mike Stephenson

Attorney Mike Stephenson has 40 years of experience and is a trusted advisor to many individuals and companies. His current practice is dominated by civil litigation in state and federal courts. He focuses much of his time on handling catastrophic injuries caused by all types of accidents, including motor vehicle, trucking, workplace injuries, product liability, just to name a few. Mike is a proven advocate and trial attorney. He has served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and has handled litigation in 18 states. [ Attorney Bio ]

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