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Your FMCSA Score: What It Is and How to Manage It

January 28, 2020 | By ClearConnect Solutions

What’s Your FMCSA Score?

The transportation and insurance industries are in a symbiotic relationship. Trucking firms want to keep their insurance premiums in check, and insurers want to avoid large payouts. To meet both objectives, insurance companies stipulate that transport companies put systems into place to minimize their exposure to risk and thus lower the probability of loss.

Insurers assess a myriad of factors to determine the risk involved with insuring transportation firms, from their claims history to the nature of the cargo they carry to the experience levels of their drivers.

One specific factor many insurers consider is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) score of the company, a rating system that uses data from roadside inspections, investigations, and crash reports to help identify carriers with safety performance and compliance issues. It’s designed to identify high-risk carriers and drivers who may require intervention.

Read on to learn more about what goes into an FMCSA score, what’s a good one, and how to find yours.

What is an FMCSA score and how is it different than a CSA score?

The phrase “FMCSA score” is a general term that represents the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) rating system of the FMCSA. You may also hear it referred to as a CSA score or a safety score.

This data-driven safety compliance and enforcement program is designed to improve safety and prevent commercial motor vehicle (CMV) crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

The CSA consists of three core components: the Safety Measurement System (SMS); interventions; and a carrier Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rating system.

The SMS considers such factors as:

  • The number of safety violations and inspections
  • The severity of safety violations or crashes
  • When the safety violations occurred, with recent events weighted more heavily
  • The number of trucks/buses a carrier operates and the number of vehicle miles traveled
  • Acute and critical violations found during investigations

Who is assigned the score, the driver or the carrier?

The motor carrier is assigned the CSA score based on the records of all its drivers, including reportable crashes and roadside inspection violations. So, while individual drivers can impact the score, it’s the company itself that is assigned the score.

Can personal driving violations impact the score?

No. The CSA database only tracks violations of drivers operating commercial vehicles, not personal ones. Driver violations that occur while operating under a carrier’s DOT number will be designated to that carrier.

How far back is the data used to develop the score tracked?

Two years.

How often is the data updated?

Once a month the data is organized into seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). The SMS groups carriers by BASIC with other carriers that have a similar number of safety events and then ranks carriers and assigns a percentile to prioritize them for interventions.

What behavioral and safety components are included in the BASICs?

The SMS organizes roadside inspection, crash, and investigation information into seven BASICs, which include:

  1. Unsafe driving
  2. Crash indicator
  3. Hours of service compliance
  4. Vehicle maintenance
  5. Controlled substances/alcohol
  6. Hazardous materials compliance
  7. Driver fitness

Each category assesses a variety of behaviors that are considered high risk. For example, in the Unsafe Driving category, behaviors that impact the safety score includes texting, speeding, improper lane change, and inattention.

What are some examples of “interventions” the FMCSA might take?

Motor carriers with an “alert” symbol in their BASICs are prioritized for interventions. They range in severity from warning letters, targeted roadside inspections, and investigations to civil penalties and even orders to cease operations.

Where can I check our CSA score?

Go to the FMCSA website here. You’ll need to enter your carrier’s DOT number.

What constitutes a “good” score?

The rating system is between 0 and 100, and the lower the score the better, as each infraction adds points to the score. The violations are weighted based on their severity or frequency.

Why are FMCSA scores important to your business?

Having a strong (i.e, low) CSA score helps carriers with the following:

  • Keeps insurance premiums lower
  • Aids in the recruitment and retention of drivers
  • Results in fewer or less frequent compliance checks
  • Attracts more customers, since CSA scores are available via public records
  • Maintains your business reputation

Maintaining a healthy CSA score is just one aspect of what insurance companies look for when determining the risk involved with insuring your trucking company. To learn more about keeping risks, and therefore premiums, in check, read our latest white paper, A Practical Approach to Insurance and Regulatory Compliance for Transportation Companies.