I am a DRIVER.  What does CSA mean to me?

I am a DRIVER. What does CSA mean to me?

Even though there are no new rules for drivers under CSA, there is new accountability. Does the government publish a rating of your personal safety performance? No.* However, you could receive fines or corrections if your employer is investigated. Poor performance on the road could seriously impact your career.

But more responsibility also means more opportunity. As a driver with a proven safety record, you are now more valuable to your employer than ever. And that, along with improved safety on our highways, is perhaps the most exciting part of CSA.

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*If you are a driver with your own DOT number, operating authority and insurance (example: owner-operator or independent contractor), while you are responsible as a driver, you are also evaluated as a carrier.

Big Picture for Drivers

PSP (Pre-Employment Screening Program)

Benefits of


Big Picture for Drivers

As a driver, have you wondered, 'What is CSA all about? What do I need to know ?'

Here are some answers to some of the "big picture" questions drivers are asking.

How do the "points" work?

CSA weights each of the BASICs safety violations for drivers and carriers based on severity. These severity weight "points" range from 1 to 10 with least serious violations rated a 1. Points get closer to 10 as they get more severe. Note that individual drivers do not receive any kind of "rating", but their points contribute to their carrier's CSA score. The same inspection and crash data that make up driver points on the carrier's rating also show up as part of drivers' PSP reports.

The measurement for each BASIC depends on
Number. How many violations (or crashes) were there?
Severity. How bad were they?
Recency. How long ago did they happen?

Measures are time weighted, meaning the more recent the violation, the more points the driver and carrier get. Here's how it works:

CSA 2010 Recent Violation Point Scores Matrix for Driver and Carriers CSA 2010 Recent Violation Point Example for Driver and Carriers

For the full listing of points, see the FMCSA's document on SMS methodology, available at http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/SMSMethodology.pdf.

What are the consequences for drivers?

First, it may be easier to understand what the consequences are not. Some things that CSA does not do:
  • Does not "rate" your safety records as a driver personally.
  • Does not make your personal inspection or violation history available publicly.
  • Does not have the authority to revoke a CDL and cannot remove drivers from their jobs. (Only state agencies responsible for licensing can make these decisions.)
  • Does not and cannot make driver violation histories available to third party companies offering "scorecards."
  • Does not restrict anyone from driving based on weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), or neck size.
  • Does not affect your personal MVR (Motor Vehicle Record), except for moving violations.
So, what then are the actual consequences? It does increase the level of accountability for drivers. Here's how:

  • Affects employer's rating. Safety data (violations and crashes) are reported to the driver's employer (carrier), and they become part of the carrier's safety rating for 36 months. And while carriers do not inherit the points a driver acquired before driving for them, any violations the driver incurs remain on their employer's record for 36 months even if the driver leaves or is terminated.
  • Affects Driver SMS record, and could lead to more consequences. The driver's safety history remains as part of their record in the Driver SMS for 36 months. This data is not available to the public, but it allows safety investigators to evaluate driver safety performance even across multiple employers. The result is that unsafe drivers can no longer avoid detection or consequences by changing carriers. And if investigations reveal violations, FMCSA can take direct enforcement action against the driver, such as issuing a NOV (Notice of Violation) or NOC (Notice of Claim).
  • Affects PSP record. The driver's safety history remains for 36 months as part of the PSP (Pre-Employment Screening Program) record, which could be seen by prospective future employers. The PSP is a voluntary program, though, so drivers must consent to allow prospective employers to see the record (although some carriers may require it as a condition of employment). Current employers can't view the PSP record at all.

What triggers an inspection?

What triggers roadside inspections? The majority of them result from speeding or other observable defects. So, by driving safely and attentively, you protect your driving record and can even avoid the effort and time lost by some roadside inspections.

What triggers a roadside inspection
Chart Source: Truckload Carrier Association/RAIR webinar, 11/09/2010

The benefits of clean roadside inspections (no points) are many. Good inspections improve the record for both you and your employer, and they demonstrate a commitment to safety for both as well. This commitment leads to a better safety reputation for your employer as well as employment opportunities for you.

What is "Driver Fitness?"

Driver Fitness is one of the seven categories of BASICs under CSA, and it is the most frequently misunderstood. While it may sound like a measurement of your physical fitness, that is not the focus of this BASIC. Driver Fitness is more than just having proper medical certification. It's about having the qualifications, experience and endorsements you need to drive (such as a valid CDL).

Does this BASIC have restrictions based on weight or BMI (Body Mass Index)? No. Driver Fitness has nothing to do with weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), neck size, or even a diagnosis of sleep apnea. (That said, you should always carry a copy of your medical certification with you when you drive. You might even think of having it laminated for added durability.)

Click here for details about points for Driver Fitness.

What are the "Red Flag Violations?" (The Big 12)

FMCSA 2010 Red Flag Violations During investigations, safety investigators look at driver histories of the worst violations of FMCSA's regulations. In particular, they look at 12 so-called "Red Flag Violations", or "The Big 12". According to the FMCSA, they always investigate these 12 items to determine if the issues have been corrected.

There are now 12 Red Flag Violations, although FMCSA says the list can change anytime.* The table below details them, along with both the BASIC and the regulation each violates.



Violation Description

Driver Fitness 383.21 Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with more than one driver's license
Driver Fitness 383.23(a)(2) Operating a CMV without a valid commercial driver's license (CDL)
Driver Fitness 383.51(a) Driving a CMV (CDL) while disqualified
Driver Fitness 383.91(a) Operating a CMV with improper CDL group
Driver Fitness 391.11 Unqualified driver
Driver Fitness 391.11(b)(5) Driver lacking valid license for type vehicle being operated
Driver Fitness 391.11(b)(7) Driver disqualified from operating CMV
Driver Fitness 391.15(a) Driving a CMV while disqualified
Controlled Substances/Alcohol 392.4(a) Driver uses or is in possession of drugs
Controlled Substances/Alcohol 392.5(a) Possession/use/under influence of alcohol less than 4 hours prior to duty
Fatigued Driving (HOS) 395.13(d) Driving after being declared out-of-service (OOS)
Vehicle Maintenance 396.9(c)(2) Operating an OOS vehicle
*To double-check the current list of Red Flag violations at any time, check the FAQs on the FMCSA's web site web site, available at http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/FAQs.aspx?faqid=1409.

Carrier Performance Scores
Glossary of CSA 2010 terms and acronyms
FMCSA 2010 Resources
Hit the High Points Challenge
Hit the High Points Challenge






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