Using CSA Data to Your Advantage

It has been almost two years since the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched the new safety protocol Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA), but motor carriers and the third-party companies that hire those carriers are still working to better understand the program and decipher how it applies to them.

Knowing more about a carrier’s data can help shippers determine which carriers they’d like to work with, but there isn’t a clear-cut formula to help them decide how to use CSA data.   

CSA ranks carriers within seven categories, called BASICs. Although there isn’t a standard, individual companies can set a policy for qualifying carriers and then stick to it, like paying more attention to alerts in certain categories, such as unsafe driving or fatigue. 

CSA data is just one piece of the pie when it comes to determining how safe a carrier is. There are a number of places those hiring carriers can go to access data. 

In addition to CSA, brokers and shippers can also check a carrier’s FMCSA operating authority, which will be conditional, satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and insurance information. Motor carrier licensing and insurance status is publicly available through DOT’s licensing and insurance website.  

FMCSA said it encourages those seeking information to utilize all of its resources. The agency is working to better educate shippers, insurers and other stakeholders on data that is available through the agency. In the coming months, FMCSA said it plans to develop shipper specific educational materials and engage shipper organizations in interactive webinars related to FMCSA’s publicly available data. 

The fact sheets can help carriers better understand the BASICs, but they most likely need to dig down into their individual data to better understand where they should focus their efforts.

Carriers should also keep in mind that CSA is still changing. FMCSA is working on improvements to CSA methodology. Those improvements include a new HAZMAT BASIC that will be released to public view. 

In addition, FMSCA is working to create a crash accountability panel whereby a carrier could submit evidence through a police report about fault. The panel will review it and adjust a carrier’s data accordingly. FMCSA has said it will begin taking reports in July.

To view the CSA’s new web page dedicated to the BASICs, visit csa.fmcsa.dot.gov.

Get the Basics on the CSA BASICs
To assist carriers and professional drivers, in February FMCSA released a new Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) fact sheet series on its website. The fact sheets outline the seven BASICs categories and how to ensure compliance with the regulations.

The seven BASIC categories are:

1. Unsafe driving

2. Fatigued driving (hours-of-service)

3. Driver fitness

4. Controlled substances/alcohol

5. Vehicle maintenance

6. Cargo-related

7. Crash indicator

 By “Move Ahead” Staff

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