top of page

Compliance, Safety, and Accountability 


Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) are at the top of the list of issues that are crucial to the motor vehicle carrier sector. What exactly is CSA, and how does it impact your present and future as a commercial driver? You may find the answers to this and many more questions concerning this topic in this chapter.


What Is CSA?


The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Administration (FMCSA) has created the CSA, a compliance and enforcement program that focuses on both drivers and motor vehicle carriers. CSA pertains to:


  • Any interstate motor vehicle carrier with a US DOT number and experience driving commercial vehicles;


  • Any interstate or intrastate motor vehicle carrier that drives a vehicle that transports hazardous chemicals; and


  • Everyone who operates a commercial vehicle.


According to Section 390.5 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), a commercial motor vehicle is one that:


  • Having a gross vehicle weight rating or a gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, whichever is larger; or


  • Intended for or utilized to compensate carry more than 8 people (including the driver); or


  • It is intended for or used to carry at least 15 people (including the driver), and it is not used to carry passengers for hire; or


  • Transporting hazardous materials in a form or amount that necessitates the use of a vehicle.


By lowering collisions, injuries, and deaths on the nation's roadways, CSA hopes to increase heavy truck and bus safety. It deals with enforcement in a manner that enables early interaction with a greater number of motor vehicle carriers and drivers. This enables FMCSA to handle issues before they worsen.


Drivers were not a part of the FMCSA's enforcement system in the past since it was centered on motor vehicle carriers. FMCSA is mandated by the CSA to concentrate on both drivers and motor vehicle carriers. According to FMCSA, monitoring motor vehicle carriers as well as drivers gives the agency a more comprehensive picture of compliance.


The CSA system is made up of four main parts:


Data collection;

Safety measurement;

Safety evaluation;



Data Collection


Data gathering is the initial element of the CSA system. Three data sources are used by FMCSA to compile information on motor Vehicle & driver compliance:


  • Roadside checks;


  • Crashes with government documents; and


  • Infractions discovered during intervention.


The majority of information about motor vehicle carriers and drivers is acquired during roadside inspections. Law enforcement officials examine the driver and the commercial motor vehicle of the driver during the roadside check. This inspection establishes if the driver and his or her vehicle are by the Hazardous Materials Regulations and the FMCSRs.


All roadside checks include data collecting. The system logs any infractions discovered during the roadside check. This information is also stored in the system when no infractions are identified.


Safety Measurement System (SMS)


The Safety Measurement System is the second part of the CSA system (SMS). The SMS measures how well motor vehicle operators and drivers perform in terms of on-road safety to:


  • Identify potential intervention candidates;


  • Identify the specific safety issues that a driver or motor vehicle carrier has; and


  • Check to see if safety issues are growing worse.


The SMS determines a score in each of the seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories every month by tracking the performance of collision data and roadside violations (BASICs).


Drivers are evaluated based on the last 36 months, while motor vehicle carriers are evaluated based on the last 24 months.


Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)


The SMS measures seven areas of safety behaviors known as the Behavior Analysis & Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). The BASICs are actions that could trigger crashes. Here are the seven BASICs:


  • Unsafe driving;


  • Fatigued driving;


  • Driver fitness


  • Alcohol and drugs under control;


  • Vehicle maintenance;


  • Crash signal.


Driving commercial motor vehicles in a risky or careless way is an example of unsafe driving. Infractions that come under this BASIC include, for instance:


  • Speeding;


  • Reckless driving; and


  • Improper lane change.


It is illegal to operate a commercial motor vehicle when intoxicated, exhausted, or in violation of the laws governing hours of duty. Infractions that come under this BASIC include, for instance:


  • Driving a business vehicle when unwell or exhausted;


  • Violations of the hours of duty; and


  • Accusations of driver weariness being a contributing cause of accidents.


Driver fitness refers to the operation of commercial motor vehicles by unfit drivers who lack the necessary education, training, or medical certifications. Infractions that come under this BASIC include, for instance:


  • Not having a license that is acceptable and/or current;


  • Lack of appropriate endorsements;


  • Not having a car or proper medical certificate and


  • Reports of crashes noting inexperience or medical issues as the root cause or contributory factor.

The use of commercial motor vehicles by drivers who are impaired by alcohol, illicit drugs, or improper use of prescription or over-the-counter pharmaceuticals is covered by the controlled substances and alcohol law. Infractions that come under this BASIC include, for instance:


  • Drug use or possession;


  • Using or having alcohol within four hours of reporting for duty; and


  • Crash reports claiming drunkenness or impairment as a contributing factor.


Failure of commercial vehicles owing to incorrect or insufficient maintenance is a result of vehicle maintenance. Infractions that come under this BASIC include, for instance:


  • Broken lights, brakes, and other mechanical parts;


  • Failure to perform the necessary repairs;


  • Not inspecting the vehicle or failing to create inspection documentation; and


  • Reports of collisions that mention mechanical failure as a contributing cause.


Vehicle-related occurrences include those caused by changing cargoes, spilled or fallen vehiclego, and improper handling of hazardous goods in commercial motor vehicles. Infractions that come under this BASIC include, for instance:


  • Not properly securing the load;


  • Using faulty or inadequate tie-downs;


  • Not having the correct hazardous documents;


  • Violations of hazmat routing; and


  • Changing loads or spilled/dropped vehicle cargo have been mentioned in crash reports as causes or contributing factors.

  • The term "crash indicator" refers to histories or patterns of frequent and severe crashes. The data set contains:

​- Crash reports from law enforcement; and

​- Collisions from state-reported collisions that were reported by the motor vehicle carrier and found during on-site examinations.


One of the seven BASICs is given to each safety-related incident. After then, it is given a numerical value between 1 and 10. This numerical value is dependent on the degree to which the violation contributed to the accident. Violations that are often tied to producing crashes are given a low value, while those that are frequently related to doing so are given a higher value.


Low-value infractions include the following:


  • A general infringement of formality on your record of service status;


  • Drive without extra fuses in your car (when required). Examples of high-value offenses include:
    • A windshield wiper on your car that is broken or not working;

    • False duty status records;

    • No or inadequate load securing;

    • Breaching an out-of-service directive.


Safety-related occurrences are time-weighted in addition to being assigned a numerical value between one and ten. This implies that current events are more significant than those that happened a year ago.


Safety Evaluation


The third element of the CSA system is the safety assessment. Here, FMCSA decides whether to take any action against the motor vehicle carrier or the driver.


The Vehicle and driver are then assigned to a peer group of other Vehicles and drivers once a score is obtained. The BASIC scores are then compared to the scores of other students in the peer group to obtain percentiles ranging from 0 to 100. The poorest performance is indicated with a score of 100. In other words, a lower score is preferable.


The vehicle carrier or driver becomes a candidate for intervention if one or more of the BASIC percentiles are over a certain level.




The CSA system's fourth element is interventions. Depending on the results of safety measuring tests and its history of enforcement, the FMCSA may conduct interventions against a motor Vehicle and a driver.


One or more deficiencies in the BASICs, a high accident rate, a complaint, or a fatal collision may all be reasons for motor Vehicle interventions.


The safety record, the presence of hazardous materials or passenger vehicles, and previous interventions all have an impact on the choice of action.


Interventions might be light or heavy. interventions consist of:


  • Warning letter;


  • Targeted roadside inspection;


  • Off-site investigation;


  • Focused on-site investigation;


  • Comprehensive on-site investigation;


  • Cooperative safety plan;


  • Notice of violation;


  • Notice of claim/settlement agreement; and


  • Operations out-of-service order (unfi suspension).


The motor Vehicle for which the driver is working is often the subject of an on-site inquiry that leads to driver interventions. The investigating officer evaluates the company's drivers' safety records while conducting an on-site investigation. The results of this evaluation decide which drivers will get assistance.


Your Role in CSA


As you can see, your actions—or lack thereof—may have a significant impact on how well you and your motor Vehicle score under the CSA. So how can you guarantee high scores?


It is crucial to have flawless roadside inspections since that is when the bulk of the data will be collected. Why do you do this?


Take this picture of your vehicle:


  • Conduct complete vehicle checks before and after each journey;


  • Get your car fixed as quickly as possible if it has issues; and


  • Confirm that your car is getting regular maintenance.

Additionally, confirm that all of your documentation, including your:


  • Logs of drivers' hours on duty;


  • Business driver's license; and


  • Vehicle/medical certificate


Always keep in mind that good scores will reflect well on you as a professional driver.



CSA-Related Data


The FMCSA has been trying to provide the industry with accurate and timely information on motor vehicle carriers and drivers as part of the CSA project.


As a new driver intending to work for motor vehicle carriers soon, you must be aware of and understand one of these programs, the FMCSA's Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP).


Motor vehicle carriers may electronically access driver inspection and crash data as part of the hiring process thanks to PSP.


Before data may be transferred to a motor vehicle carrier, drivers must provide a written agreement, and records will be safeguarded in compliance with federal privacy rules.


Drivers have access to this information as well, so they can check for errors and fix them. The data given comes from FMCSA's Motor Vehicle Management Information System and contains the most recent five years' worth of collision data as well as three years' worth of roadside inspection data (MCMIS).


Driver information included in MCMIS includes:


  • Results of the inspection and compliance evaluation;


  • Enforcement data;


  • State-reported crashes; and


  • Statistics about motor vehicle carriers.


According to FMCSA, motor vehicle carriers will be able to properly evaluate the possible safety concerns of potential driver-employees by having access to this data.




Your performance as a professional driver is influenced by safe driving habits, keeping a safe car, and having the correct documentation. Your career as a professional driver will advance if you continue to get high scores on the CSA Safety Measurement System and make sure potential employers can access and examine your favorable PSP records

bottom of page