CSA Scores Explained

FMCSA Recently Updated the SMS Website

We are going to take a look at the details of the CSA Scoring System in this article.

Read more about the recent changes here:


CSA stands for :




Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) holds motor carriers and drivers accountable for their role in safety using a CSA scoring system. So, lets take a look at what is CSA:

CSA is FMCSA’s data-driven safety compliance and enforcement program started in 2010 to improve safety throughout the industry and improve access to information for carriers and officials alike. –


Why Should I Care about my CSA Score?

Why is it Important to Aim for a Low CSA Score?

Just like golf, the lower your CSA score is, the better. But, unlike golf we have all the information to help you with your CSA Score.

CSA scores are ranked from 0 to 100.  If your score is a zero you have a perfect score. However, once the score reaches 50, warning letters begin to be sent and an investigation may be initiated by the FMCSA. There are plenty of other reasons to aim for as low a score as possible.

The first 2 reasons that come to mind: 

Number one, of course, is safety of our truck drivers and the other drivers on the road. Personal harm to someone or yourself is the worst possible outcome for any situation.

And then, the number two reason is reducing stress.  Running a business is stressful enough. Constant violations, and letters, and inspections, and investigations, and fines. All of which are easily avoidable, and such a massive pain in the ass to deal with. As a result, you will regret not striving for a low CSA score.

Did You Know Your CSA Score is Made Visible to the Public?

Users can search by DOT Number, MC/MX Number or Company Name.


What is the CSA SMS (Safety Measurement System)

The SMS is the online database that is regularly updated with details from: 

  • Roadside Inspections
  • Driver and Vehicle Violations
  • Collision/Crash Reports from the Last two Years
  • Results from Investigations

There are seven metrics that are used to calculate the score of the CSA. Here are the BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories):

Vehicle Maintenance

49 CFR Parts 392, 393 and 396

Details for this CSA Score metric include:

  • Properly Maintaining a Commercial Motor Vehicle
  • Load Management
  • Proper Handling of Spilled or Dropped Cargo

Examples of roadside safety violations that will reduce your CSA Score:

  • Operating an Out-of-Service Vehicle
  • Mechanical Defects (Lights or Brakes not Functioning)
  • Improper Load Management


Examples of roadside safety violations that will reduce your CSA Score:

  • Speeding
  • Reckless Driving
  • Improper Lane Change
  • Inattention
  • Seatbelt Compliance
  • Not Obeying Traffic Laws

CRASH INDICATOR (not visible to the public)

This CSA Score metric can only be seen by enforcement personnel or by someone with access to your safety profile account.

The CSA Crash Indicator score calculation uses figures from the MCS-150 biennial updates.

Hazardous Materials Compliance

49 CFR Part 397; 49 CFR Parts 171-173,177-180

Violations of this CSA Score metric include:

  • Improper Labeling of Hazardous Materials 
  • Improperly Securing Hazardous Materials 
  • Cargo Tank Specification Compliance 
  • Improper Loading/Unloading Processes

Driver Fitness

49 CFR Parts 383 and 391

This CSA Score metric focuses on driver qualifications:

  • Medical fitness
  • Training 
  • Experience

Controlled Substances and Alcohol

49 CFR Parts 382 and 392

This CSA Score metric focuses on driver impairment:

  • Alcohol
  • Illegal Drugs
  • Misuse of Medications

Violations include: 

  • .02 or Greater on Alcohol Test 
  • Operating Under the Influence of Illegal Drugs

As of 12/2021 the FMCSA Updated Rules Regulating Controlled Substance and Alcohol Violations

The new rules tighten the screws to drivers with one or more drug or alcohol violations in their past. As a result, drivers with such violations will no longer be allowed to be able to obtain, renew, or upgrade learner’s permits or commercial driver’s licenses. CLP or CDL privileges will be removed from licenses until the required return-to-duty process and testing has been performed.


Hours of Service Compliance

49 CFR Parts 392 and 395 

This metric focuses on:

  • Records of Duty Status (RODS) 
  • Management of Driver Fatigue

There are Countless Reasons to Aim for as Low a CSA Score as Possible.

Fewer DOT Audits 

  • Nobody has time for this 

Lower Insurance Premiums

  • Money money money, saving money is like making money.

Easier to Land More Clients

  • Use safety compliance as a marketing strategy, which directly leads us back to making more of that glorious money.

Now you know a little more about the importance of maintaining a low CSA score. American Carrier Services offers a large range of services to keep your CSA score low. Similarly, if you have violations we can assist in helping navigate to resolve the problems.

Learn about our services on our services page.

Hear what all our customers are saying on our Google review page.

Still have questions? Give us a call at 1-877-405-5003.