SURVIVING DOT ENFORCEMENT & CSA AUDITS OR ROADSIDE INSPECTIONS
DOT Enforcement, CSA Scores & Roadside Inspections | MAC Safety
The FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) initiative is any Level Three or higher inspection conducted by a DOT FMCSA-certified inspector. These roadside inspections, along with other data collected over a 24-month period like crash reports and previous DOT audits or interventions, allow for optimal DOT enforcement.
Here’s how it works. This CSA score is shown by a percentage with 100% being the worst and 0% being the best. A good, clean inspection goes a long way to keeping a carrier’s score down. If a carrier has a score worse than 80%, the DOT typically instigates an intervention program. As you can see, the purpose of this DOT enforcement is to identify and focus on the most ‘at risk’ carriers from year to year.
What Do DOT Enforcement Roadside Inspections Consist Of?
During a Level Three or higher inspection, the inspector will verify the truck’s registration, DOT number, and insurance. The driver will also be asked to produce his or her CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), Medical Card, and Logbook. Any observed issues with the driver or the vehicle will be noted.
How is the DOT/CSA Score Calculated?
A CSA score is determined by the number of violations a carrier’s drivers accrue over a 24 month period. While there are too many possible violations to list individually, the following BASICs (Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Categories) affect the CSA score:
Poor Crash Record – If crash record data from the past 24 months shows a history or pattern of frequent or severe crashes, it will negatively impact a CSA score.
Unsafe Driving History – Drivers pulled over or ticketed for speeding, reckless driving, failure to obey traffic signs/signals, improper lane changes, or distracted driving will raise a carrier’s CSA score. (FMCSR Parts 392 and 397)
Fatigued Drivers – If a review of a driver’s Hours of Service (HOS) logbook signals the driver may be overworked and fatigued, it reflects negatively on the carrier and impacts their DOT/CSA score. Driver fatigue is a serious safety issue. Up to 75% of driver violations are hours of service related. (FMCSR Parts 383 and 391).
Failure to Produce CDL or Medical Card – If the driver’s CDL credentials or a medical card can’t be produced, the driver will be considered unqualified or medically unfit to operate a commercial vehicle.
Substance Abuse (including possession) – A driver’s use or possession of alcohol or any controlled substance (cocaine, opiates, marijuana, amphetamines, or PCP) can significantly affect a carrier’s CSA score. (FMCSR Parts 382 and 392)
Poor Vehicle Maintenance/Cargo Securement – Observed mechanical defects like poor brakes, a non-working headlight or taillight, or not making required repairs will worsen a carrier’s CSA score. Additionally, a driver found to be carrying an unsafe improperly secured load will also impact CSA and Safety Measurement System (SMS) scores. (FMCSR Parts 392, 393 and 396)
Hazardous Materials – Improper handling of hazardous materials and poor load securement or cargo retention can be devastating to a carrier’s score. (FMCSR Part 397 and Hazardous Materials Regulations Parts 171, 172, 173, 177, 178, 179, and 180)
More information on the methodology for calculating scores can be found at https://csa.fmsca.dot.gov.
Is a Bad CSA Score Really That Damaging?
The short answer is yes. First, these scores are accessible to the public and reflect your company’s reputation. Customers want to work with carriers with a solid reputation. Good drivers also want to be associated with a firm with a good reputation.
Taking a CSA score seriously is indicative of taking your business seriously. It shows that your company is committed to highway safety and respects the lives of your drivers and those they share the road with. It’s also good for a company’s overall bottom line. Insurance rates remain low and it’s easier to acquire and retain both customers and good drivers with a good CSA score.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR CSA SCORE? IF YOU DON’T, VISIT HTTPS://AI.FMCSA.DOT.GOV/SMS & SEARCH BY EITHER CARRIER NAME OR USDOT NUMBER. BAD SCORES CAN BE RECTIFIED
If you have a poor CSA score, a safety management company like MAC Safety can help put you on a path to an improved score by:
1.Management within your company. There should be clearly established roles and responsibilities when it comes to promoting, practicing, and enforcing safety standards.
2.Defining CMV Driver Qualifications – Setting high recruiting standards and properly screening candidates can only help your CSA score. Up to 87% of large truck accidents can be attributed to driver error. Tightening up your screening process lessens the likelihood of hiring an unsafe or unqualified driver and can dramatically reduce accidents.
3.Ensuring Systematic Vehicle, Truck, Trailer, and Dolly Maintenance – There must be a system in place to ensure vehicles, trucks, trailers, and dollies are well-maintained and safe. They should all undergo a thorough inspection at least once a year. Everything should be properly documented and no vehicle with an inspection date over 12 months should be on the road.
Additionally, all drivers should be well-trained when it comes to pre-trip inspections. Many common violations found during roadside inspections can be identified in the pre-trip inspection. Regular audits of these pre-trip inspections are encouraged to ensure drivers aren’t just checking off boxes so they can hit the road.
Cargo securement is also vital. There are up to 1,000 highway deaths each year from non-secure cargo falling off trucks. A pre-trip inspection should confirm all cargo is securely tied down and properly blocked or braced. It should be immovable.
4.Training Your Team for HazMat Regulation Compliance – If your company transports hazardous materials, your drivers must thoroughly familiarize themselves with the DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations. Fleets carrying hazardous materials are required to maintain a solid CSA score. Therefore, DOT enforcement is stepped up during any compliance review or roadside inspection. HazMat goods must be correctly classified and packaged and drivers cannot be caught transporting hazardous materials on restricted routes.
5.Preventing Hours of Service Violations – Management and dispatchers share the responsibility of driver safety. Hours-of-service (HOS) regulations limit when or how long CMV drivers can be behind the wheel. These rules are constantly changing. It’s important to stay-on-top of all HOS developments and changes to keep CSA scores low. This includes emphasizing to drivers the importance of keeping their logbook current. Some of the most common HOS violations found during roadside inspections are Form & Manner violations. These are basically overlooked clerical tasks in the driver’s log.
READY FOR AN ACTION PLAN TO GET & KEEP YOUR CSA SCORE LOW?
The consultants at MAC Safety will be more than happy to assess your situation. This will let us identify areas that are weak and set forth procedures to strengthen them. Reversing a poor CSA score can take time. However, once everyone from the top down is on the same page, change for the better will gradually occur in time. Contact us today at 724-847-3331 or complete our contact form and stop sweating DOT enforcement, DOT compliance audits, and roadside inspections.