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CSA / Roadside Inspections

Drivers of commercial vehicles know the importance of the Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) regulations that every truck driver must follow. If you’re in charge of fleet management, then you also know it’s important that all of your drivers are trained, and they follow the rules of transportation for the overall safety of everyone on the road. When a driver stops adhering to the regulations that are in place for the transportation industry, then they become a liability.

What to Know About Roadside Inspections and CSA Points
Roadside inspections are a way for transportation officers to review the practices of each driver. If a driver is found to be in violation of the regulations, then they are assessed with CSA points, which is a negative mark on their driving record. The results are recorded in the Safety Measurement System (SMS).

The CSA points are part of a weighted system on a scale of 1 to 10, with the number 1 being the least severe. The good news is that they are also time-weighted, so over time, the CSA points will decrease and eventually be removed from your SMS altogether. CSA points will stay on your record for 24 months from the date the point was given. However, it’s weighted number will start to decrease over the course of the 24 months and lessen the impact on your commercial driving record.

The Seven CSA Basics

There are seven categories of safety violations that drivers are reviewed for. These include:

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

The first five categories are available for anyone to look at, while the hazardous materials compliance and crash indicator are only available to those in the commercial driving industry. The CSA points are used as a risk management tool and as a consideration for hiring new employees. It’s necessary for drivers to keep their CSA scores as low as possible for the benefit of both the company and the individual.

The CSA program keeps drivers on track to ensure they follow the requirements of the commercial driving industry. Drivers who maintain a low CSA score are an asset to their company and help keep the highways safe for everyone.

CSA weights each of the BASICs safety violations for drivers and carriers based on severity. These severity weight “points” range from 1 to 10 with least serious violations rated a 1. Points get closer to 10 as they get more severe. Note that individual drivers do not receive any kind of “rating”, but their points contribute to their carrier’s CSA score. The same inspection and crash data that make up driver points on the carrier’s rating also show up as part of drivers’ PSP reports.

The measurement for each BASIC depends on
Number. How many violations (or crashes) were there?
Severity. How bad were they?
Recency. How long ago did they happen?

Measures are time weighted, meaning the more recent the violation, the more points the driver and carrier get. Here’s how it works:

Points Example: At an inspection, Driver Dan is found to he driving a truck using a suspended CDL and is placed out of service. For this violation, both Dan and his employer receive 10 points, which are then time-welghted. For 12 months after the inspection, Dan has 30 points assigned to his score (10 points multiplied by 3). Dan’s employer has 30 points assigned to its score for six months as well. Eighteen months later, Dan would have 20 points assigned to his score (10 points multiplied by 2) and his employer would have 10 (no multiplier).


For the full listing of points, see the FMCSA’s document on SMS methodology, available atSMSMethodology.pdf.

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