What is CSA in Trucking?

If you are in the USA’s transport business, you’ve come to terms with the word CSA. CSA scores determine many crucial factors, especially if you are in the carrier or trucking trade. If you want to know what is CSA in trucking, then follow this article where we’ll break down everything you need to know regarding CSA.

What Is CSA in Trucking?

Compliance, Safety & Accountability or, in short, CSA is a federal measure to hold companies chargeable for maintaining safe on-road behavior regarding their trucks or other transportation.

This program was initiated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA to enforce road safety and proper methods to prevent a disaster before it occurs.

After CSA was introduced into the transport and delivery environment, it has been working wonders to reduce unfortunate accidents and incidents.

How Does CSA Program Works Regarding Trucking?

CSA program is a data-driven initiation with only one purpose: to prevent collisions or crashes, fatal & mortal injuries, and death regarding commercial motor vehicles like trucks and busses and provide safety and security to everyone using the road.

To ensure safety and proper justification to the people, the CSA program follows three significant factors:

1. The Safety Measurement System (SMS)

The SMS or the safety measurement system dictates whether or not your CMV (commercial motor vehicle) or truck is safe for the road. This depends on seven core BASIC aspects, BASIC stands for Behavior Analysis & Safety Improvement Categories.

Data gathered via the BASIC from the past two years of data information allows investigators to judge whether or not your truck or company goes along with CMV rules. This data is updated every month.

Depending on the gathered data on all seven aspects of the BASICs, the CMV in consideration and the organization behind it will receive a CSA score open to the public. Still, the individual scores in each aspect are restricted from public knowledge.

7 Aspects of the BASIC

The seven core factors of the BASIC determine whether or not a truck or company is following the CSA and road safety protocols. These core aspects are beneficial for the company and the state and provide safety for everyone. The seven characteristics are:

  • Unsafe Driving

If the CMV in this regard is a truck and it aligns with dangerous scenarios like reckless driving, speeding, changing lanes improperly, etc., it will be considered unsafe driving.

Any previous legal notice regarding this sort of situation will also count as the conduction of unsafe driving. Inattention or lack of having focus while on the road is also part of this.

  • Crash Indicator

The crash indicator presents information on the vehicle’s involvement in any crashes in the past. Whether or not the car was directly involved doesn’t matter in this case. If the truck driver was directly involved, it reflects negatively on the company and its personnel.

  • Hours of Service Compliance

The accumulated data regarding the hours-of-service compliance shows how long the truck has been out for work and the amount of rest the driver and the vehicle gets. It helps to determine if the given rest period provides the driver with enough repose to be focused on the road and stay alert while driving the road

  • Vehicle Maintenance

Due to their size and 18 wheels, trucks are more likely to cause on-road damage to smaller vehicles and themselves. Ensuring the car has no issues and won’t have any incidents is a must for any trucking company.

There’s more, and if a proper maintenance check wasn’t conducted before letting out an 18-wheeler in the road, it also serves as a felony regarding Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

  • Controlled Substances/Alcohol

Drinking or taking drugs during driving is entirely illegal. If a carrier driver drives under the influence of drugs and alcohol, it is a significant blunder in the eyes of the CSA program. Considering road and safety laws, it is a downright felony.

  • Hazardous Material Compliance

If a truck is carrying hazardous materials or objects that will cause dangerous effects if exposed to the public, the company must adhere to this situation by having proper labeling, marking, packaging. Giving the appropriate authorities a heads-up will be for the best.

  • Driver Fitness

Finally, a company must ensure that their driver is suitable and fit for the job. They should look into and provide a driver’s valid commercial driver’s license or CDL, medical records, special conditions (if the driver has any), state driving records, annual driving reviews, and employment applications.

Driver Fitness

Because at the end of the day, almost ninety percent of safety depends on the driver’s skill and experience.

Every violation of the mentioned aspects adds points to the accused’s CSA scores, and the higher the score, the more problems they will face. So, it is better to always abide by these rules to have no issues regarding CSA.

2. Interventions

To ensure that all carrier and truck delivery companies follow BASICs provided by the CSA, CSA uses many methods to keep everyone in line. If given classifications to these methods, it comes down to three categories:

Early Contact

Suppose CSA notices that a truck or the carrier company isn’t following the set-out rules and might create an unsafe situation. In that case, they will send out an early warning letter representing their concerns and direct the company to solve them.

They might also conduct a roadside inspection to check whether their concern was right or wrong.


If, after getting the warning, the issues haven’t been fixed and CSA gets more notification over violation of the BASICS, then there will be three types of investigations before coming to a decision:

  • Offsite Investigation

Various documents and data will be requested to be sent to the CSA to identify any problems or performance issues.

  • Onsite Focused Investigation

Investigators will focus on specific details and performance data on the carrier’s business workspace. They can also interview the employees in this case.

  • Onsite Comprehensive Investigation

Investigators will review the entire safety protocol and perform maintenance and records. They might also talk to the employees regarding the work process of the business.


After the investigation process, the accused carrier business will receive four types of notices:

  • Cooperative Safety Plan (CSP)

It’s a voluntary plan to improve the safety and performance of the carriers or trucks.

  • Notice of Violation (NOV)

It’s a formal message stating that the business has violated BASICs and might face the consequences. This can also come with a CSP.

  • Notice of Claim (NOC)

This is a formal statement that says the violation of the BASICs are severe enough to warrant assessment and civil penalties

  • Operation Out of Service Order (OOSO)

OOSO states that the business has violated the BASICSs tremendously. Therefore, they must immediately shut down their carrier process and cease all their vehicles instantly.

3. Safety Fitness Determination (SFD)

SFD evaluates the safety and fitness of the trucks that are to be in the business. It also provides a rating for the said trucks.

Final Thoughts

CSA and the CSA scores are essential for businesses as having high CSA scores will bring more clients as everyone values safety. This means the company will enjoy a threat-free workflow and good insurance deals for their excellent rating on CSA.

We hope you’ve found the answer to the question, what is CSA in trucking and now know enough to enjoy a good trucking experience.

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