The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) developed the Compliance, Safety, & Accountability (CSA) program and the Safety Measurement System (SMS) to improve commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety and reduce roadway accidents. For commercial drivers in California, understanding the program and how it impacts their careers is crucial.
What Is the CSA Program?
The CSA program is a safety initiative established by the FMCSA. Its goal is to ensure drivers and their employing companies comply with safety standards to reduce accidents and improve road safety. The CSA evaluates the safety performance of drivers and carriers through inspections and crash data, placing them into the SMS.
This system scores safety performance in seven BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories), including unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, controlled substances/alcohol, vehicle maintenance, hazardous materials (HM) compliance, and crash indicators.
How Is the DOT FMCSA Notified of Traffic Violations?
When a commercial driver receives a conviction for a traffic violation or is found at fault for a collision, the details of the incident are transmitted to the FMCSA by state DMVs, law enforcement agencies, inspection reports, and crash reports. Each violation is assigned a severity weight reflecting its risk. Higher points are assigned to violations with greater crash risk.
The accumulation of these severity points can have serious implications for a fleet or driver's career. It may lead to interventions from the FMCSA, including warning letters, targeted roadside inspections, and, potentially, more formal enforcement actions.
How Long Do CSA Severity Points Stay on a Driver's Record
CSA severity points remain on a driver's record for three years from the date of the violation and on the fleet’s DOT record for two years. These points are weighted over time, with recent violations contributing more points than older ones.
For instance, a second conviction within a BASICS category within six months has its severity points multiplied by three; between six months and one year, they are multiplied by two, and Beyond 12 months, violations contribute their assigned severity weight until they are removed after two years.
You Need an Experienced CA Traffic Attorney to Resolve Your Ticket to Avoid CSA Severity Points & Time-Weight Multiples
Navigating the CSA program can be complex, and a commercial driver’s conviction of a traffic violation can have a substantial effect on their CSA score and career. For this reason, it's critical to consult with an experienced California traffic attorney if you receive a ticket or at-fault notification from the DMV of a collision involving your CMV.
A skilled traffic attorney can assist you in multiple ways. They can meticulously examine the details of your case, provide valuable advice, and represent you in court. They can challenge the accuracy of a traffic violation, logbook violation, or roadside inspection result or argue for reduced charges. A successful resolution may result in fewer severity points being added to your record, a no-point conviction, or even the dismissal of the charge, which would mean no CSA severity points.
Although CSA severity points are primarily aimed at the fleet, drivers are impacted when CSA points are added to their Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) record. When a commercial driver applies for a better-paying driving position with a larger fleet, they must consider the PSP of the driver.
In conclusion, understanding the CSA program is essential for commercial drivers in California. Engaging an experienced traffic attorney can help you navigate any traffic violations and mitigate their impact on your CSA score, safeguarding your career and the safety of our roads.
For more information on this subject, check out our blog post, “The Benefits of a Clean Driving Record for Commercial Drivers.”
Consult a CA Traffic Attorney Who Practices in Truckee, CA, About Help with CSA Severity Points & Your PSP
We have over a decade of experience assisting commercial drivers with traffic violations.
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.
The Centerlinedrivers.com article, CSA point values: What do drivers and employers need to know?