Understanding CSA Scores & How They Impact Your Fleet

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Fleet vehicles are subject to yearly inspections and may encounter roadside inspections or one of six levels of inspection at weigh stations. If a vehicle or fleet driver is not up to code, companies may face DOT violation fines, placed out of service, and higher CSA scores. Certain technologies, such as electronic logging devices (ELD) for Hours of Service (HOS) and fleet management software make compliance easier than ever. However, understanding what CSA scores are and how they impact your fleet is pertinent to a fleet company's success. Even more important than knowing how to avoid higher CSA scores is knowing what to do to improve your score. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the FMCSA driver score below.

What is a CSA Score?

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) uses a CSA (compliance, safety, accountability) score to identify high-risk motor carriers. The goal of this is to reduce the number of accidents on the road by enforcing accountability and encouraging fleet risk management and safety planning. When a driver operating a commercial vehicle under a carrier DOT number receives a violation fine, the fine is assigned to that DOT carrier.

What is a good CSA score?

The CSA point system uses a 100-point scale, with 100 being the worst record and zero being the best. Therefore, the lower the CSA score the better.

How CSA Scores are Calculated

CSA scores are calculated based on driver performance data, inspections, and accidents. The FMCSA collects this data via their Safety Measurement System (SMS), which is a database of state-reported crashes, inspections, and investigations from the last two years. This data is updated once per month and can alter your CSA score. In other words, your score may change monthly, leaving room for you to either improve or make it worse. This is why it’s vital to know everything that goes into your score. Here’s how the FMCSA calculates your points:

Safety Violations

Using SMS, the FMCSA documents all types of safety violations from commercial fleet drivers. Drivers can negatively impact their CSA score if certain violations, or too many violations, are cited against them. When calculating a CSA score, the aspects listed below are kept at the forefront:

  • Number of violations
  • Severity of the violations
  • Date of the violations (more recent violations have more weight)
  • Number of fleet vehicles operated by the carrier
  • Miles traveled
  • Inspections
  • Registration details

After the collection of these details, the FMCSA breaks down the data using the BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories).

What are the FMCSA BASICs?

The BASICs are comprised of seven different categories, including:

  • Unsafe driving: Includes incidents of speeding, recklessness, improper lane changes, seatbelt violations, and distracted driving
  • Driver fitness: Includes driving records, qualification files, CDL license files, medical records, and more
  • Hours of Service: Including compliance, logbook records, and falsification
  • Vehicle maintenance: Includes inspections, vehicle defects, and repairs
  • Substance abuse: Alcohol and drug test results, as well as prescription drug use
  • Crash indicator: History of state reported accidents
  • Hazardous materials compliance: Proper compliance with loading, testing, packaging, labeling, and more

Another factor the FMCSA uses is insurance. Drivers and carriers must have the right amount of documentation and coverage.

Why CSA Scores Matter

There are a lot of reasons CSA scores are vital to your fleet company. Perhaps the most notable and obvious is that a high CSA score indicates a company with a higher risk of accidents and non-compliance with safety regulations. This is important because it tells your customers how reliable you are. They use this information to determine whether or not they want to work with you. Insurance companies use this information for the same thing. They assess risk for every company and individual they work with, counting every bit of information they have available. CSA scores help them identify those in high-risk categories, which helps to determine premiums.

The FMCSA may not be able to suspend a CDL license, but they can intervene or fine drivers. This may include warning letters, safety investigations, fines, and even higher CSA scores. Fleet companies already face budget constraints and high costs of fuel and maintenance, so there’s no room for additional fines when you can avoid them. Especially since they affect your ability to increase your client base, and your insurance premiums, and therefore your bottom line.

A high CSA score also increases the negative attention on your company. The FMCSA is more likely to watch your operations and increase the number of inspections to push for corrective action. They’re also more likely to push for out-of-service orders. Of course, all of this has a negative impact on your ability to do business. Operations slow down with more inspections and more out-of-service orders.

How to Check CSA Scores

It can be difficult to improve CSA scores, just as it is with any credit system, but knowing where you stand is the first step. To do this, go to the FMCSA website called SAFER (Safety and Fitness Records). You can search for your company records using your DOT number. Select SMS once you’re inside the profile to see your scores. You do need a DOT pin to see this score, which all carriers receive with their DOT number or obtained through the FMCSA.

How to Improve CSA SCores

Once you know where you stand, you can work on improving your CSA score. Just like your personal credit score, it can be difficult to improve. The FMCSA updates scores every month, counting accidents, inspections, and the aforementioned data in these scores. Accidents closer to the date of the calculation hold much more weight than violations in the past. But the FMCSA will continue including accidents and infractions as far back as 36 months. This means that, without extra violations, scores can improve over time. When they do, you’ll benefit from reduced accidents, inspections, fines, more clients, lower insurance premiums, and more.

There are many ways to improve your score. The actions below are some of the simplest and most options for improvement.

Use PSP reports during hiring

The Pre-employment Screenings Program (PSP) is not the same as a CSA score for drivers, though many confuse the two. The PSP stores information about a candidate’s driving history. Fleet managers should use this during the hiring process to determine eligibility for the position. When you make the right hiring decisions, you lower accident risk and out-of-service likelihood.

Use dashcams

Dashcams allow you to view driver behavior, rather than solely rely on diagnostic data. You’ll be able to see hard braking, speeding, seatbelt compliance, accidents, and other violations. You can use this footage for insurance claims, lawsuits, inspections, and for improving training by tailoring to the needs of the driver.

Predictive and preventative maintenance

If you’re actively working on preventative maintenance, your vehicles are much safer on the road, as well as your drivers. Telematics systems monitor vehicle diagnostics, alerting you to vehicle issues well before the diagnostic trouble codes. Telematics also collects vehicle and driver data and stores it in one place, providing an easy way to create and store DVIR forms. This makes it much easier to pass inspections.

Challenge citations

When a carrier receives a violation that affects their CSA score, they have two years to challenge it. It’s a lot like disputing challenges on your credit report—you can dispute violations on your CSA report. Not only can you challenge the charge, but you can also challenge the severity of it, which may result in fewer CSA points.

Training

Training is one of the most effective ways to make a change in your company’s fleet risk management and driver safety. First, you must educate drivers on the importance of safety and the measures your company is going to take to increase safety. You can also use telematics devices to monitor driver behavior to tailor training to each driver, improving safety on a more permanent basis.

Know the most common violations

It isn’t just about the most common violations of all carriers, but about your carrier’s common violations. You have to know your areas of weakness. What are your drivers doing to impact your CSA score? How can you use training to change that? What can you do to decrease your score? Telematics can help you monitor your fleet in comprehensive ways, such as driver behavior and vehicle diagnostics. This allows you to see exactly where your fleet is at risk to create strategies for improvement.

Choose an ELD solution

Choosing the right ELD makes all the difference in your ability to comply with regulations and pass inspections. Comprehensive fleet management software doesn’t stop with Hours of Service logging. It provides vehicle diagnostics monitoring, driver behavior reporting, real-time location, maintenance alerts, fuel card integration, route optimization, and so much more.


Learn more about an ELD solution that provides your fleet more than compliance, at Azuga.

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Multi-Drop Route Planning

A multi-drop route planner is a process that plans a route for a driver to make more than two deliveries in multiple locations. It uses vehicle routing software to collect and analyze thousands of data points and determine the best delivery route. This route planning software can plan, re-route, and reschedule without causing any danger to the driver, environment, or business. It considers many factors, such as the number of distribution centers, warehouses, or residential areas a driver has to visit, resource availability, and driver safety. 

How Does Multi-Drop Route Planning Work? 

The route optimization software tracks the vehicle while factoring in when deliveries need to arrive. Of course, a human being should ensure that everything has been planned out properly, but the process should be automatic. Both this person and the system should look at distances, travel time, and fuel consumption. 

Once a route is set, the route optimization software compiles data to choose the best vehicle and driver depending on the delivery. It uses data based on the route and the client’s needs. At this point, it also considers the driver’s hours and weather conditions to determine how much time is needed. These systems need to work in real-time to ensure that managers and clients can connect with up-to-date information. 

Benefits of Multi-Drop Route Planning

There are various benefits to multi-drop route planning. It maximizes productivity, keeps fuel costs low, promotes driver safety, and helps businesses stay compliant with federal driver hour regulations. Your business will save money by using its drivers effectively and not using as much fuel. 

Where to Get Multi-Drop Route Planning Software

If you’re looking for this software, you don’t need to search any further! Azuga’s route optimization software allows for multiple stops. It provides the best routes based on historical data, traffic conditions, weather conditions, and machine learning that helps it create the best routes for you in real-time. See what you can do with route planning software by trying out a demo today!

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Fleet Dispatching

If you manage a fleet, you probably already understand the delicate dance that is fleet dispatching. If not, you may not realize just how crucial this process is to the success of any fleet-based business. 

What Is Fleet Dispatching?

Simply put, fleet dispatching is the process by which commercial fleet drivers are sent out into the field to make deliveries, service customers, and handle other business-related tasks. But it involves so much more than simply telling drivers, “you go there.” Good fleet dispatching may also involve considerations for traffic conditions, road hazards, driver skill sets, customer preferences, and onboard equipment. When done correctly, it’s a skillful juggling act that helps a business reach its daily goals. When poorly handled, it can be a disaster for all concerned.

What Is a Fleet Dispatcher?

A fleet dispatcher is a person in charge of scheduling and arranging dispatch for a commercial fleet. Small fleets may have a single dispatcher to manage all calls, while larger enterprise fleets may employ an entire team. 

A fleet dispatcher must clearly understand schedules and routes, job proficiencies, fuel management, fleet maintenance, and regulations related to hours of service and other fleet compliance issues. A good fleet dispatcher knows the drivers in the fleet well and can anticipate their scheduling needs and which jobs they are most suited to handle. Fleet dispatchers must be masters of communication and have elite organizational skills.

Fleet Dispatch Software from Azuga

Fleet dispatching is as much an art as a science, and it can be overwhelming at times. The best way to support the fleet dispatchers on your team is to give them tools and technology that make the job easier. Fortunately, Azuga offers the answers to all of your fleet dispatching conundrums

Our GPS Fleet Tracking software can keep track of all the vehicles in your fleet along with large equipment and other assets. Dispatchers can use this information to see which vehicles are nearby when a job pops up. What’s more, we offer top-notch route optimization tools to help guide drivers around road construction, accidents, and other hazards that might prevent them from getting to their destination on time. We can even help you schedule routine maintenance, promote road safety, and automatically deliver dispatch notifications to drivers in the field. 

Learn about all the ways Azuga Fleet can help your commercial fleet stay productive and efficient while simplifying maintenance schedules and creating a culture of safety on the road. Schedule an Azuga demo today!

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Last Mile Delivery

Last mile delivery is the step in delivery when something moves from a transportation hub to its final destination, such as a residence or a retail store. This step must be as quick and efficient as possible to ensure that customers are satisfied, and products move as much as possible. What is last mile delivery, and how can businesses perfect it? 

Steps of Last Mile Delivery

There are five steps to last mile delivery to go through to ensure it is accurate and efficient. 

  1. Enter orders into a centralized system
    You've been tracking the order all along. At this point, the customer is most likely also tracking it through a tracking number. It’s essential that you track the order to know precisely where it is if they have any questions along the way. 
  1. Orders arrive at the transportation hub. 
    Last mile delivery begins at this step. From here, the business must ensure that the order gets to the customer as quickly and efficiently as possible. 
  1. Designate delivery personnel. 
    Designate delivery personnel to deliver the parcel using a last-mile logistics solution. 
  1. Load orders onto delivery vehicles. 
    Scan each item before loading them onto the delivery vehicles. This is an important part of tracking as it updates the sender and the recipient as to the order's status. You don’t want anything to get lost along the way. 
  1. The order reaches the recipient. 
    Once the order reaches the customer, the last mile delivery process is complete. Be sure to update the tracking information to indicate the item has been delivered. 

Last Mile Delivery Challenges

Big-name companies like Amazon and Walmart are replacing last mile delivery with middle mile delivery. With middle mile delivery, the company owns the fulfillment, so the delivery process goes from the port to the fulfillment center. The problem with last mile delivery is that it is expensive: it can account for 53% of a shipment’s total costs. Supply chain inefficiencies are increasing as need grows, and so costs are only going up. It’s vital to optimize last mile delivery if you want to use it for your business. 

How to Optimize Last Mile Delivery

Technology is the answer to optimizing last mile delivery. Route planning software, for example, can minimize delivery costs and cut the time that it takes to deliver. Auto dispatching also helps to cut down on mistakes and time. Finally, gathering data and getting detailed reports can help identify problems in your operations and tell you how to improve upon your weaknesses. Fleet management software like Azuga offers all of these features and more to help optimize your last mile delivery options. 

Conclusion

Last mile delivery is still the standard way smaller businesses do their deliveries, and Azuga makes it possible to keep last mile delivery, even while competing with big retailers. Find out more about Azuga by reading our blog or visiting our website.

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