There are four main ways that you can improve your CSA score, these are:
1. Challenging citations
2. Checking pre-employment reports for drivers
3. Regular preventative maintenance inspections
4. Properly using ELDs
Your CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score is one of your fleet’s most important metrics as it directly impacts your business. Low scores indicate high safety standards and make your company more attractive to prospective clients and employees, while high scores result in higher insurance premiums and make your fleet less likely to be hired, hurting your bottom line. Fortunately, carriers have more control over the number than they might think. Below are four ways to improve your CSA score.
How can I minimize the impact of violations on my CSA score?
Carriers have two years to challenge violations resulting in a diminished CSA score, so they should always challenge questionable citations. Put together a clear, accurate description of why you believe the citation is wrong using all relevant evidence to support your argument. Using dashboard cameras and fleet management software helps ensure you’re keeping accurate records of exactly what occurred so you can make a stronger case. The investment is worth it: carriers not only save money on fines, they save on insurance premiums as well.
If the violation is dismissed, great news: it will be removed from your CSA score, as well as your driver’s. But even if your challenge is denied and the violation stands, don’t give up: you can still challenge its severity. Further review often results in a diminished charge, resulting in a lesser impact on CSA scores.
How can I be sure I’m hiring safe drivers?
The best way to ensure you’re hiring employees with strong safety records is by checking prospective drivers’ Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) reports. PSP reports, available through the FMCSA, show each driver’s five-year crash and three-year inspection history from the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), giving thorough insight into a driver’s safety record. According to FMCSA data, companies who consult PSP reports before hiring drivers to reduce their out-of-service citations by 17 percent and crash rates by 8 percent.
How can preventative maintenance help my CSA score?
Properly maintaining your fleet vehicles through a rigorous preventative maintenance program can directly impact your CSA scores since it helps you identify and repair vehicle problems before they get written up during an inspection. The more a vehicle is checked by a mechanic, the less likely an officer will be to find a citable problem. Fortunately, a complete telematics solution includes engine diagnostics that play a crucial role in staying ahead of vehicle maintenance. In addition to monitoring metrics like tire pressures, they can provide insights from data that would otherwise be hard to track manually and can also alert you to when service is due, either through automatically tracking service intervals via date or engine hours, ensuring you don’t miss a service.
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How can ELDs improve my CSA score?
To understand how using ELDs impacts CSA scores, it’s first useful to know which CSA violations are most common:
- Log form and manner (given for missing, duplicate or erroneous information on logs)
- Log not current (outdated logs)
- Driving beyond the HOS limits (driving vehicles past the 14-hour rule)
- Falsification of records
- Missing Logs
While the above violations are different, they have one key factor in common: they all result from not keeping accurate logs. Since ELDs automatically record key metrics related to logs and HOS by taking vehicle information directly from the engine, it eliminates human error that comes with using paper logs. By tracking HOS and giving alerts when HOS thresholds are approaching, ELDs also prevent trucks from being driven out-of-service – and, by extension, help avoid that type of violation.
Log violations aside, the FMCSA found drivers who use ELD devices have lower accident rates than drivers who still use paper logs – an 11.7 percent reduction, which obviously helps CSA scores. How do ELDs prevent crashes? First, they cut down on driver fatigue by strictly enforcing mandatory breaks. ELDs also detect behaviors that can cause crashes, like harsh braking and accelerating, which fleet managers can track and use to coach their drivers toward better driving practices.
Finally, in the event one of your drivers is involved in an accident, the information ELDs gather about how they were operating the vehicle at that time can be invaluable from a liability perspective. For example, ELD data could show a driver was not speeding at the time of an accident, which manual logs could never do – therefore proving they were not negligent, and helping dispute any claim that they were.
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