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CSA - Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the categories below to see J. J. Keller's answers to questions about Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) — formerly Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010). You can also search FAQs from FMCSA.

Applicability

Q: Which carriers are affected by CSA?
A: Any interstate carrier that has a US DOT number is covered by the CSA program, no matter what "type" of carrier they are (for-hire, private, flatbed, van, utility, construction, etc.), what size carrier they are, or what type of vehicles they operate (CDL required versus non-CDL required vehicles). Intrastate hazmat carriers are also subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) authority and subsequently CSA.

Q: Are intrastate carriers affected by CSA?
A: Intrastate hazmat carriers are subject to CSA. For all other carriers, it depends if their state requires intrastate carriers to get a DOT number, if they upload intrastate carrier violation and accident data into the Safetynet/MCMIS system, and if they do anything with the output of the system. What the states that require intrastate carriers to have a DOT number will do with CSA remains to be seen.

Q: Is there a way I can file for a waiver and not participate in the CSA program?
A: No. There are no waivers. Any interstate carrier that has a US DOT number will be involved in the CSA program.

Q: How does CSA affect Canadian and Mexican carriers?
A: Any interstate carrier with a US DOT number will be involved in the CSA program, no matter where they are domiciled. However, only accidents and violations that occur in the US will be counted in the data collection and evaluation system. The same is true of US carriers operating in Canada or Mexico (only violations that occur in the US will be counted in the carrier's data and evaluation).

Q: Is there a minimum size of company that will be included in the CSA program?
A: Any interstate carrier that has a US DOT number, no matter what size, will be included in the program.

Q: If a carrier has multiple locations, which state will be in charge of a carrier in the CSA system?
A: The carrier's principal place of business listed on the MCS-150 will determine which state office will be responsible for the carrier.

Q: Will shippers, brokers, and importers (in the case of overseas containers) be held responsible for any violations (such as overhour violations caused by "shipper pressure")?
A: No. Carriers and their drivers (if the violation is one the driver was responsible for or could have prevented) are who will be held responsible for violations in the CSA systems.

Q: Will repair vendors be held responsible for violations found on vehicles that they have reported to the carriers as ready to operate?
A: No. Carriers and their drivers (if the violation is one the driver was responsible for or could have prevented) are who will be held responsible for violations in the CSA systems.

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Data

Q: Will data eventually "fall off" of the system, or will violations and crashes be counted against a carrier or driver forever?
A: The measurement system uses the previous 24 months' worth of data when calculating a carrier's BASIC Scores. Anything older than 24 months will not be used (for drivers it is the last 36 months of data).

Q: Will data eventually "fall off" of the system, or will violations and crashes be counted against a carrier or driver forever?
A: The measurement system uses the previous 24 month's worth of data when calculating a carrier's BASIC Scores. Anything older than 24 months will not be used (for drivers it is the last 36 months of data).

Q: What data will CSA use to track, measure, and evaluate carriers?
A: The CSA systems will use the following:

  • Crash reports provided by the states for DOT recordable crashes.
  • Roadside inspection reports provided by the states, and all violations listed on the reports.
  • Violations discovered during interventions conducted by state or federal investigators.
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Drivers

Q: Does the driver component of CSA only apply to drivers with a CDL license?
A: No. Any driver operating a commercial vehicle is subject to the CSA program. A "commercial vehicle" according to the FMCSA is a vehicle used in commerce with a gross weight or a gross weight rating of more than 10,000, either single or in combination, a passenger vehicle that seats more than 8, and any vehicle transporting a placarable amount of a hazardous material (see §390.5 for a complete definition).

Q: Will violations, citations, or warnings issued against a driver while driving his/her personal vehicle be placed into the driver's data in CSA?
A: No. The only data that will be placed into the CSA database related to drivers will be violations noted on a roadside inspection report (this is only completed when a commercial vehicle and/or the driver of a commercial vehicle is inspected) and crashes that the driver is involved in while operating a commercial vehicle.

Q: Will the severity weighting points for violations discovered during a roadside inspection be assigned to a driver's CDL following the inspection?
A: No. The severity weight system is simply a component of the CSA Safety Measurement System and has nothing to do with the driver's license.

Q: Will firing a driver that has a lot of violations in their personal data improve a carrier's CSA data and scores?
A: No. If the driver committed the violations while operating under a carrier's DOT number, those violations stay with that carrier for 24 months, even if the driver leaves.

Q: When hiring a driver, does the driver's CSA data get added to the new company's CSA data?
A: No. The only violations that get placed into a carrier's data are violations involving vehicles and drivers operating under the carrier's DOT number.

Q: Will violations and crashes stay with a driver who continually jumps from company to company?
A: Yes. If a violation is determined to be one the driver was responsible for or could have prevented it will be placed in his/her personal data as well as the carrier's. This personal data stays with the driver, no matter what carrier the driver is working for.

Q: Where will violations involving owner operators operating under our DOT number show up in the CSA system?
A: Any violation involving a vehicle or driver operating under a carrier's DOT number will be assigned to the carrier, including violations involving owner operators operating under a carrier's DOT number. If the violation is one that the driver is responsible for or could have prevented, the violation will also be assigned to the driver (in this case, the owner operator).

Q: Are there any violations that only the driver is held responsible for?
A: No. All violations are assigned to the company. If the violation is one that the FMCSA has determined the driver was responsible for or could have prevented the violations will also be placed into the driver's data.

Q: Can using the Driver Pre-employment Screening Program (note: this is a separate program that uses the same data as CSA, but it is many times involved in CSA discussions) or pulling driver-specific data out of the CSA system take the place of getting an MVR and/or doing a safety performance history on a new driver, or the annual review on an existing driver?
A: No. The data in the PSP and CSA systems is not the same information that is in the driver's MVR (MVR has citations and convictions, while the PS and CSA systems show violations noted on roadside inspection reports) and is not the same information that is being collected in the SPH (drug and alcohol testing results are not in any database maintained by the FMCSA).

Q: Will the FMCSA notify the driver's carrier if they take action against a driver?
A: At this time, the exact procedures involving driver interventions have not been developed. However, as the driver interventions will be tied to carrier interventions for the time being, a carrier should be aware of when one of their drivers has been subjected to an intervention.

Q: Can a driver lose his/her CDL if the CSA system "flags" the driver as being a poor driver?
A: No. There are no regulatory provisions that would allow the FMCSA to "pull" a driver's CDL at this time (this would require rulemaking). The FMCSA can initiate interventions against the drivers, up to and including fining the driver, but they cannot suspend a driver's CDL at this time.

Q: Will carriers be able to see driver BASIC Scores in the CSA or PSP systems?
A: No. Carriers will only be able to see the driver data; the driver's BASIC Scores will be confidential.

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Interventions

Q: What triggers an intervention?
A: Interventions are selected based on the following factors: number of Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) percentiles above the threshold (Note: a high BASIC percentile indicates high noncompliance), a symbol due to Serious Violations, commodity hauled (e.g., passengers, Hazardous Material (HM)), intervention history, and time since last intervention. A complaint or fatal crash could also trigger an investigation.

The Intervention Thresholds for carriers are organized by BASIC and are set based on the BASIC's relationship to crash risk. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's analysis has shown that the strongest relationship to crash risk is found with high percentiles in the Unsafe Driving, Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance and Crash Indicator BASICs. Therefore, these higher risk BASICs have a lower threshold for interventions than the other BASICs. Currently, the Intervention Thresholds are as follows:

Intervention Thresholds Table

Q: If a company has a BASIC go over the intervention threshold, will they always receive a warning letter first?
A: No. The intervention selected by the FMCSA will depend on the BASIC Score (the further the carrier is over the intervention threshold, the more severe the intervention) and the carrier's intervention history.

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Safety Event Groups

Q: Can you explain how safety event groups work in the new Safety Measurement System (SMS)?
A: One of the ways the SMS accounts for the differences between motor carriers and their operations is by placing carriers in safety event groups based on the number of safety events (e.g., inspections, crashes) in which the carriers have been involved. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's foremost concern is safety and it accomplishes this by addressing the carriers who pose the greatest crash risk, irrespective of their industry segment.

Safety event groups enable the SMS to deal with the widely diverse motor carrier population, while ensuring that similarly situated carriers are treated with the same standards. Safety event groups do not compare carriers by the commodities they haul or their industry segment.

The tables below outline the safety event groups for each of the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) and can be found in the SMS Methodology document.

Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance, Driver Fitness, and Vehicle Maintenance BASICs
Hazardous Materials Compliance BASIC

*A relevant inspection is one where the roadside inspector reviewed a particular area for evidence of violations (not all inspection types/levels look at all areas).

Controlled Substances/Alcohol BASIC

The Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs divide the safety event groups further into two additional categories: combo and straight segments. The following is used under the SMS to determine the carrier's segment:

  • "Combo" – combination trucks/motor coach buses constituting 70 percent or more of the total Power Units (PUs).
  • "Straight" – straight trucks/other vehicles constituting more than 30 percent of the total PUs.
Unsafe Driving BASIC
Crash Indicator BASIC
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Regulations

Q: Will there be new regulations or recordkeeping requirements that carriers must comply with in CSA?
A: No. CSA does not include any new regulations carriers will need to comply with. CSA is a system for tracking, measuring, evaluating, and intervening with carriers, it is not a new regulation that carriers must comply with. The only regulatory component in CSA has to do with the FMCSA using the Safety Evaluation the CSA Safety Measurement System generates as a carrier's official rating and changing the auditing procedures used by the FMCSA investigators.

Q: Will drivers be required to carry additional documentation in the vehicle with them to prove that that are "fit and qualified" under CSA?
A: No. The requirements for drivers and the documentation the driver must have with them are not changing.

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Size & Weight

Q: Will overweight violations noted on roadside inspection reports affect a carrier's score in CSA?
A: No. Size and weight violations were removed from the now obsolete Cargo Related BASIC when the Methodology was updated in August 2010.

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Violations & Violation Scoring

Q: Will all violations listed on a roadside inspection report count, even minor violations?
A: All violations of the safety regulations appearing in the severity weighting tables and noted on a roadside inspection report during a relevant inspection will be used in the CSA Safety Measurement System. However, due to the severity weighting system serious violations will have a greater impact on a carrier's score than minor violations.

Q: Will a violation be counted even if the driver was not placed out of service or given a warning or citation?
A: Yes. All violations appearing in the severity weighting tables listed on roadside inspection reports during a relevant inspection will be used in the CSA Safety Measurement System, regardless of what action followed the discovery of the violation (actions such as being placed out of service, and/or being warned or cited are actions that follow the discovery of a violation).

Q: Is there a list of the violation severity weighting available?
A: Yes, the FMCSA has published it in its Safety Measurement System (SMS) Methodology (PDF, 718 KB).

Q: Are the exact formulas used to score each BASIC publically available?
A: Yes. The formulas are available in its Safety Measurement System (SMS) Methodology (PDF, 718 KB).

Q: Many times an officer may not give a driver an inspection report following a driver inspection; will CSA be able to capture these inspections and use them in the system?
A: No. If the officer did not complete a roadside inspection report, the inspection will not show up in CSA. Instruct drivers that if the officer did do a complete driver inspection, the driver should ask for an inspection report. However, please be aware that there are several reasons the officer my not have completed a roadside inspection report. Examples include the following:

  • The officer did a simple "traffic stop," not a roadside inspection.
  • The officer was not a MCSAP/CVSA officer. Only officers that have been properly trained can conduct roadside inspections and submit reports.
  • The officer did not do a complete inspection (simply checking a driver's license or log does not count as an inspection; the inspection must meet the North American Standards established by CVSA to be recorded as a roadside inspection).

Q: What is the appeals process if you do not agree with a violation recorded on a roadside inspection report?
A: There are two main appeals processes if you feel that you have received a violation you should not have. The first is to contact the State Motor Carrier Safety Office in the state the inspection took place in, and the second is the DataQs system operated by the FMCSA. In both cases, you will need to be able to support your argument (you cannot simply state that you feel the violation was incorrect; you will need to provide regulatory or factual proof that the violation was incorrect).

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Visibility

Q: Will all roadside inspection reports be available for a carrier to review in CSA?
A: Yes, any roadside inspection report that has been submitted to the FMCSA by a state will be visible. One key point: Carriers will still need to track roadside inspection reports internally (to make sure corrective actions are completed and that drivers are submitting all reports to the company and officers are submitting all reports).

Q: Is the data in CSA visible to everyone like SafeStat data was?
The FMCSA has stated that they use the same protocols for CSA that they had in place for SafeStat when it comes to the public viewing carrier data in CSA with the exception of the Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASIC. The Crash BASIC Score and Driver Indentifying data will not be visible to the public and the HM Compliance BASIC score has been suppressed until further notice although individual violations in this BASIC will be available for public view.

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