What is the CSA Score for Drivers? – A Beginner’s Guide

Road safety is an important factor for all delivery businesses. The US faces tragic losses each year, with roughly 100,000 road injuries and crashes involving large trucks. This is a huge loss on all fronts, especially for businesses that work in the transport sector. 

Accountability from a higher authority helps businesses ensure better road safety. The CSA program is one such program whose score helps you evaluate the safety of your service.

In this article, we’ll discuss what a CSA score is, the factors influencing the CSA score for drivers, and some beneficial tips to improve the CSA score. 

What is a CSA score?

CSA stands for Compliance, Safety, and Accountability. Basically, CSA scores for drivers that every commercial vehicle must have. This score ranges from 0 to 100, indicating the safety and compliance of a vehicle, a driver, or a fleet company. 

It’s also important to note that individual drivers do not have their own CSA scores. A CSA score is assigned to carriers based on their DOT number. This means that if a driver violates any terms of compliance, it’ll be assigned to the carrier and not the driver.

CSA Program: Explained

The Compliance, safety accountability (CSA) program was first started in 2010 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This program largely ensures the safety of vehicles on the road while reducing the number of fatal crashes that occur. 

This regulation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has helped owners and commercial drivers maintain a stable score to avoid roadside violations, leading to smoother delivery and transport.

What are the Factors That Influence the CSA Score? 

Now, many entrepreneurs may get confused about how the CSA scores are calculated. The CSA program categorizes safety violations under the BASIC category (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories).

The CSA Safety Management System tracks the 7 categories of BASICs to provide an appropriate score value. 

These seven basics include:

  1. Unsafe Driving: Operating vehicles in a dangerous manner
  2. Crash Indicator: indicates when accidents happen
  3. HOS Compliance: Measures hours of service violations
  4. Vehicle Maintenance: Improper load securement, faulty brakes, etc.
  5. Controlled Substances/Alcohol: Use of controlled substances, alcohol, and illegal drugs while driving. 
  6. Hazardous Materials Compliance: how safely drivers are transporting hazardous materials.
  7. Driver Fitness: Reports medical violations or fraudulent medical certificates.

Crash indicators and hazardous materials compliance aren’t currently available to the public. Each factor is scored based on the state-reported crash data, which includes the pattern and severity of crash involvement.

What is a Good CSA Score? 

The only thing you need to understand about CSA scores is that the lower it is, the better. A full 100 reflects poorly on the performance and condition of a carrier vehicle. 

Good enough CSA scores allow businesses to avail lower insurance premiums, better clientele, and fewer DOT audits or roadside inspections. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) safety measurement system also undertakes frequent investigations for vehicles and trucks with scores greater than 65%. 

CSA sends warning letters when BASIC scores surpass accepted levels. Safety performance data is updated monthly via FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS). Note that a warning letter doesn’t require a direct response as they are a means to encourage additional safety before a hazard happens.

How to Check Your CSA Score? 

You can check your CSA score in a few steps; here’s how: 

  1. Go to the official CSA program site
  2. Use your DOT number to access the report. 
  3. You will see your CSA score as you enter your USDOT number and PIN into the SMS (Safety Measurement System) login page.
  4. If you do not have the PIN, request the same from USDOT. Delivery of PIN in such a scenario will take 4-7 days. 

6 Tips to Improve Your CSA Score 

Following are 6 tips that you can implement to keep your CSA score low or bring your high CSA score down:

1. Frequent vehicle maintenance

Frequent vehicle maintenance to improve CSA score

Every fleet management organization should prioritize carrier maintenance to avoid any kind of violations. Parts like tires and brakes undergo a lot of wear and tear. Maintenance is much easier than getting caught off guard at a roadside inspection with bad tires. 

2. Develop a robust strategy for hiring drivers

Develop a robust strategy for hiring drivers to improve CSA score

According to crash reports, the majority of road crashes occur due to the negligence of the driver operating that carrier. So, it is important to hire drivers with excellent safety records during the recruitment process.

Hiring capable drivers with a decent driving history is important to avoid unnecessary troubles in the future. Hiring process and proper background checks also include the Pre-Employment Screening Program or PSP records. 

PSP reports are an easy indicator that includes individual driver safety records. Moreover, on-duty performance is also important to assess the competency of a driver.

3. Implement pre-trip inspections

Implement pre-trip inspections to improve CSA score

One easy tip you can implement is quick pre-trip and post-trip inspections of all the carriers. Unchecked parts like broken taillights can greatly affect your CSA scores, leading to a violation. 

The easiest way to accomplish this is to create a simple checklist for vehicular maintenance. This checklist should be beneficial company-wide and serve as a quick reminder of all parts to check before each trip. 

4. Create a proper schedule for drivers 

Create a proper schedule for drivers to improve CSA score

One last tip is to ensure drivers have a flexible working schedule. Around 8,000 truck accidents that occur every year are caused by a drowsy or tired driver. That is an astonishing number of crashes that can be avoided by being more diligent in planning. 

Assigning work back to back is a dangerous risk, and you must avoid it. These are serious medical violations. Avoid pushing fatigued drivers to run deliveries by implementing a system where everyone works for similar hours and periods.

5. Enhance driver training

Bad driving significantly impacts the CSA score and overall safety of your company. Therefore, to improve CSA, it is important to organize driver training and safety programs.

However, you cannot be with the driver everywhere; that’s where fleet tracking software comes in. Using an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) can help track hours of operation by drivers. ELD also monitors driving behavior or pattern, which helps to provide feedback or training to the drivers as needed. This will help to improve fleet safety and lower the risk of CSA violations. 

6. Inculcate safety as a core company value

For a business to be competitive, it is important to meet customer expectations. But it is equally important to create a safety culture like “safe driving” for the drivers. One of the best ways to promote a safe driving culture is to provide appropriate incentives, take disciplinary actions against common violations, and add bonus structures that induce drivers to prioritize the CSA score.

Improve Your Driving Efficiency and CSA Score with Upper

It is a matter of fact that the clients usually go for the carriers with a good CSA score. Now that we all understand what a good CSA score entails, it is important to put processes in place that allow you to have a great transportation service. Integrating fleet management software that enhances your business’s performance is a crucial next step. 

Upper is one such robust software. Upper is a route planning and optimizing software that businesses can use to improve delivery performance. 

Here’s how Upper can help you improve your CSA score:

1. Quickly dispatch your drivers

With Upper, you can not only plan efficient and optimized routes, but you can also easily dispatch your drivers. Upper’s powerful routing algorithm chooses the fastest and most optimal routes for you. 

With a single click of a button, you can easily dispatch your personnel by sending a notification of the route to their mobile devices. This way, communication is maintained, and work productivity is improved.

2. Smart scheduling 

No more worries about exhausted driving. With Upper, you can easily reassign work to another driver. This way, delivery is unaffected, and the fleet’s safety standard is maintained.

You can also easily see each driver’s performance and ensure they are all working under the safety condition. Rid yourself of any hassle of planning and executing multiple jobs when you can get it done in a fraction of the time with a tool like Upper.

3. Access efficient routes to improve driving performance

With Upper, you have access to the most efficient multi-stop routes that take delivery constraints into account. This is important because CSA scores consider driving performance and vehicle status. Moreover, these efficient routes help the drivers to reach the potential clients on time.

Without optimized routes, drivers are at the risk of traffic violations to reach on time, causing damage to vehicles as well. However, with Upper, you can rest relieved that your drivers are driving safely on efficient routes without risking their safety.

Try out the free 7 days trial with Upper.


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While drivers do not receive CSA scores, the scores are indicative of the carrier’s and driver’s competence.

Some of the best ways to improve your driver’s CSA score are:

  1. pre-trip checkups of all fleet vehicles
  2. conducting proper annual maintenance of the fleet
  3. live driver tracking

If you score a low CSA score, you always have the option to appeal for reviews. In this case, the CSA violations that caused you to score low will be reviewed again by the authority. But if the review bring the same result, then a minimum waiting period of 2 years is required to remove the existing CSA score.


Avoiding accidents and unfortunate events is the priority of all businesses that handle large vehicles to transport goods and services. And the CSA score reflects the safety of your commercial vehicle on the road. 

One of the first steps you can take toward improving your CSA score is to assign optimized routes to your drivers. This will ensure vehicles and drivers spend minimum time on the road. This improves the driver’s productivity and reduces the vehicle’s wear and tear. 

Upper can help you with all of this and more. So, don’t hesitate to try out the free 7 days trial.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, author of two defining books on reverse geotagging, is a trusted authority in routing and logistics. His innovative solutions at Upper Route Planner have simplified logistics for businesses across the board. A thought leader in the field, Rakesh's insights are shaping the future of modern-day logistics, making him your go-to expert for all things route optimization. Read more.