Having a CSA score is just another way for the DOT to turn you into a number. This time that number is a grade recorded in the publicly accessible CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) database. The CSA program is part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Every truck driver or carrier licensed by the DOT (Department of Transportation), which is another group under the FMCSA, gets a CSA score. You will be asked to provide your CSA score to businesses or agencies in certain instances. Here are three of the most frequent.
While most of your CSA score is available to view two parts of your CSA score is not public. These include the Crash Indicator and Hazardous Materials categories under the BASIC scale. For the Crash Indicator it is currently in private mode because of federal and public concerns that it’s not an accurate reflection of this section of data. Until the Crash Indicator is further vetted and perhaps upgraded it will likely remain private. The Hazardous Materials indicator is a new feature of the CSA score and it’s not ready to be made active or public.
Now on to the groups that are looking at CSA scores before they make business decisions. If you are trying to get a new load from a customer they can look up your CSA score within minutes from their computer. When you are bidding for a job your CSA score will be compared to the competitors. Customers who are involved in shipping regularly are aware of searching for CSA scores and they do so frequently. Additionally they do not have to tell you that the reason you weren’t selected for the trucking job is because of a bad CSA score.
Trucking insurance is necessary for truck drivers who drive independently and for owner operators who own their own equipment. Truck and trailer insurance will be one of your larger expenses. Therefore it helps to shop around. Keep in mind that when you go to an insurance agent and request a quote as a truck driver or carrier, they will use your CSA score as a determining factor. For example, they can decide if you are too much of a risk to be provided with coverage, or how much to charge you for insurance, all based on your CSA score.
If you are trying to find better paying truck driving jobs then you are going to have to have a lot of paperwork on hand. You’ll need a resume, your motor vehicle record, your DOT physical exam card, and your drug/alcohol test history, just for a start. While you will provide all of this, your future employer also has access to your CSA score. This gives them an extra glimpse into your driving record. They will use all of the resources you provide to make a decision on whether or not to hire you. Once again, this is why you need to keep your CSA score in a healthy state. If you do view your score and see something in error it is your responsibility to fix the problem. You’ll need to reach out to agents at the CSA program to have your score examined. Expect to have to show supporting documents that aid your case.