CSA - Compliance, Safety, and Accountability Program

What New Truck Drivers Need To Know About The CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability):

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) created the CSA to replace an older set of safety regulations and testing and enforcement methods that couldn't keep up with the growth of the trucking industry and technology.

The regulations created for this program govern all commercial traffic in the United States. Meaning: You.

In late 2015, the FMCSA removed from public view the part of the system that displays carrier CSA scores, as part of the FAST act, as the system is being re-evaluated and re-vamped.

What Is The CSA?

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicles. It introduces a new enforcement and compliance model that allows FMCSA and its State Partners to contact a larger number of carriers earlier in order to address safety problems before crashes occur. To Read The Long and Detailed, Technical Official Impossible To Comprehend By Most Reasonable People Version, Visit The FMCSA Website

Why Is CSA Necessary? Commercial vehicle wrecks had been dropping since the 70's, but then leveled off, prompting the FMCSA to come up with a fresh set of regulations.

Since the 1970s, Federal and State enforcement agencies in partnership with many other stakeholders have progressively reduced the rate of commercial motor vehicle crashes resulting in injuries or fatalities on our Nation’s highways.

The rate of crash reduction slowed, prompting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to take a fresh look at how the agency evaluates the safety of motor carriers and drivers and to explore ways to improve its safety monitoring, evaluation, and intervention processes. Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) is the result of this comprehensive examination.

What Does The CSA Cover?

The fight regarding hours of service will probably be an ongoing issue, but the rules stand as they are at the moment.

Basically, if you shouldn't be driving, DON'T. If the vehicle you're piloting is not safe, PARK IT.

  • Unsafe Driving:

    — Operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) by drivers in a dangerous or careless manner. Example violations: Speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change, and inattention. Don't drive it like you stole it. It's frowned upon, generally.

  • Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance:

    — Operation of CMVs by drivers who are ill, fatigued, [see Fatigued Driver Regulations] or in non-compliance with the HOS regulations. This BASIC includes violations of regulations pertaining to records of duty status (RODS) as they relate to HOS requirements and the management of CMV driver fatigue Example violations: HOS RODS, and operating a CMV while ill or fatigued. As a commercial driver, you are only allowed, legally, so many hours behind the wheel at a stretch.

  • Driver Fitness:

    — Operation of CMVs by drivers who are unfit to operate a CMV due to lack of training, experience, or medical qualifications. Example violations: Failure to have a valid and appropriate commercial driver’s license (CDL) and being medically unqualified to operate a CMV. In addition to being licensed, drivers will need to pass a DOT physical before being allowed to drive CMV's..

  • Controlled Substances/Alcohol:

    — Operation of CMVs by drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications. Example violations: Use or possession of controlled substances/alcohol. Should be self-explanatory: Drugs are bad, mmm-kay?

  • Vehicle Maintenance:

    — Failure to properly maintain a CMV and/or properly prevent shifting loads. Example violations: Brakes, lights, and other mechanical defects, failure to make required repairs, and improper load securement. As a truck driver, you are not simply "holding the wheel". Part, in fact much, of the responsibility for the safety and road-worthiness of your vehicle falls to the driver. You will conduct Pre-trip inspections to confirm that it is so. Your carrier cannot force you to drive an unsafe vehicle, and it's your job to know the difference.

  • Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance:

    — Unsafe handling of HM on a CMV. Example violations: Release of HM from package, no shipping papers (carrier), and no placards/markings when required. Some freight is more dangerous than other freight, and you will have to know how to transport it safely.

  • Crash Indicator:

    — Histories or patterns of high crash involvement, including frequency and severity. It is based on information from State-reported crashes.

CSA Information For Truck Drivers
  • Your consent is required for pre-employment safety screening, and can only be used for pre-employment.
  • You can view your carrier's (or potential carrier's) safety information online.
  • Accuracy of your safety record is your responsibility, as are corrections.
  • Carrier's will not inherit any of your past safety violations.

  • Carriers can only use FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) as a pre-employment screening tool to see your five-year crash and three-year inspection history from FMCSA’s databases, not to evaluate the driving records of current drivers. Your consent is required.
  • It is up to you to keep your safety record accurate. To check its accuracy, order your PSP record at www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov for $10, or for free via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/foia/foia-requests.
  • DataQs allows drivers and motor carriers to make a Request for Data Review (RDR) in order to improve the accuracy of data that feeds FMCSA’s data systems. This system is used when a company is challenging CSA scores.
  • As of late August 2014, you can submit an RDR through DataQs to reflect the results of citations you have contested in court for inspections occurring on or after August 23, 2014.
  • Your safety record affects your carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) results. Visit the SMS Website to review your carrier’s safety information.
  • Carriers do not inherit any of a new hire’s past violations. Only violations that a driver receives while driving under a carrier’s authority impact a carrier’s safety record.
  • FMCSA does not generate or endorse “scores” issued by third-party companies for drivers and motor carriers.

Limitations of the former Operational Model The FMCSA couldn't physically inspect all carriers for safety issues, so too much was slipping through the cracks.

FMCSA’s compliance and safety programs improve and promote safety performance and save lives. However, agency resources available for these efforts have remained relatively constant over time, despite increases in the regulated population and additional programmatic responsibilities. Given these constraints, FMCSA has identified limitations in both how safety is measured and how unsafe behaviors, once identified, are corrected.

  • FMCSA’s former compliance review (CR) program was resource-intensive and reached only a small percentage of motor carriers, which made it increasingly difficult to continue to improve motor carrier safety using existing tools.
  • Onsite CRs to determine a motor carrier’s safety fitness required an average of three to four days to complete. At program staffing levels, FMCSA could perform CRs on only a small number of the 700,000 active interstate motor carriers.
  • SafeStat was FMCSA’s former system for measuring safety performance. Though it proved effective, SafeStat grouped safety problems together to identify carriers for a one-size-fits-all CR. Moreover, it did not focus on the behaviors known to cause crashes.
  • The FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study indicated that increased attention should be given to drivers of commercial motor vehicles.

CSA Safety Measurement System

A carrier's safety performance and analysis is compiled in to a report that is publicly available on the FMCSA website.

A carrier's score is based on such factors as roadside inspections, carrier and driver safety violations, and State-reported crashes.

Within the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Operational Model, the Safety Measurement System (SMS) quantifies the on-road safety performance of carriers and drivers to identify candidates for interventions, determine the specific safety problems that a carrier or driver exhibits, and to monitor whether safety problems are improving or worsening. SMS has replaced SafeStat in the new Operational Model.

SMS uses a motor carrier’s data from roadside inspections, including all safety-based violations, State-reported crashes, and the Federal motor carrier census to quantify performance in the following Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). A carrier's SMS score does not necessarily indicate whether or not it is a "good" company to work for, as many factors are at work. Companies that hire a lot of brand new truck drivers may tend to be scored on "rookie mistakes", for instance.

Check Any Specific Motor Carrier's CSA Safety & Performance Data

CSA Contention and Controversy

The new CSA rules prompted legal challenges, some of which are still ongoing, mostly by the industry and carrier representatives.

Several court challenges and lawsuits have been filed in regards to the change in driver-related rules, with some still ongoing. As recently as August, 2013, a federal appeals court upheld most of the SA's Hours Of Service rules.

Also in August 2014, FMCSA chief administrator and CSA regulatory champion Ann Ferro resigned from her position. Coupled with the now-Republican control of both the Senate and The House Of Representatives, new court challenges could be forth-coming, though recent federal appeals court rulings indicate that it may be to late, on technicalities, for new legal challenges to be mounted.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

Commercial Motor Vehicle:

A commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle used in commerce to transport passengers or property with either:

  • A gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • A gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more which includes a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds
  • CSA:

    Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

    The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle


    Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

    The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

    What Does The FMCSA Do?

    • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
    • Data and Analysis
    • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
    • Research and Technology
    • Safety Assistance
    • Support and Information Sharing


    Department Of Transportation

    A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

    State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.


    Commercial Motor Vehicle

    A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

    • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
    • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
    • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
    • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
    • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards


    Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).


    Body mass index (BMI)

    BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

    • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
    • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

    It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.


    Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

    The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.


    Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

    The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.


    Hours Of Service

    HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


    Operating While Intoxicated


    Electric Auxiliary Power Units

    Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

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