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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
After the collection of these details, the FMCSA breaks down the data using the BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories).
The BASICs are comprised of seven different categories, including:
Another factor the FMCSA uses is insurance. Drivers and carriers must have the right amount of documentation and coverage.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Each driver is required by the law to record a driver’s duty of status every 24 hours, using the structures stipulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A record of duty status (RODS) can also be referred to as a driver’s log. It allows drivers to record details such as date, vehicle number, totals driving hours, the total number of miles driven within 24 hours, carrier’s name, a 24-hour period starting time, address, driver’s certification/signature, and remarks.
Records can be maintained using an electronic logging device (ELD), using an FMCSA approved automatic on-board recording gadget, or even manually on a grid. Logs must be validated at all times by indicating each change in a duty status.
A RODS is mandatory as part of Hours of Service (HOS) rules, which applies to commercial vehicles (CMVs). However, a few cases of short-haul carriers are exempt from maintaining records of duty status.
Company policies may be different, but the FMCSA only expects drivers to record time and location after every stop.
Since the introduction of the ELD mandate, several motor carriers are leaning toward electronic logging devices to maintain their records of duty status automatically. Companies were given until December 16, 2019 to update automatic on-board recording devices to the latest ones, meaning there were also some exemptions to the ELD Rule.
Exemptions to RODS regulations include the following:
For drivers to qualify for the exemption, they must meet all the requirements stated by the regulations. Failure to meet even one of the requirements means all HOS rules apply.
A driver must produce ELD records when requested by a safety official, either immediately, or within the permissible time if the motor carrier operates from more than one terminal or office. A motor carrier is supposed to retain a back-up copy of all ELD records for at least six months.
Only carriers or drivers falling under the exempted categories may use other recording methods, which may include automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) to maintain driver record of duty status.
Being exempted from the ELD rule does not mean you are automatically exempted from the HOS regulations. A driver is required to submit original paper log sheets to their respective carriers within 13 days after the completion of their trips. The driver retains a copy of all RODS for the previous seven days, which must be produced on request for inspection at the time they are on duty. Drivers must also sign all hard copies of RODS.
The idea behind mandating the ELD rules was to provide accurate, consistent, and accessible methods of logging driver hours of service, and simultaneously create a safer working environment. The new measures were intended to ensure drivers took necessary breaks and rested appropriately, and to ensure they remained alert while driving. Making the switch from manual processes like logbooks to electronic hours of service tools makes it easier for businesses to keep up with the FMCSA requirements.
However, the implementation of electronic logging devices does not change the fleet manager’s responsibility to track off duty or driving hours. What it does require is that you make use of a log tracking device and software system.
The HOS rules apply to drivers operating CMVs such as school buses and semi-trucks. For a vehicle to be classified as a CMV, it must fulfil the following:
If a vehicle meets the qualifications above, it is required by the law to comply with HOS regulations and to maintain decent hours of service log.
Besides ordinary traffic violations and unsafe driving, it is common among drivers to fail to comply with HOS regulations. Hours of Service compliance counts as one of the core basics of CSA, and maintaining a low score is often a result of piling frustrations.
The ability to fix problems associated with hours of service is the most crucial way to keep safety scores in check, and helps in controlling the frequency of roadside inspections.
Below are the most common violations of Hours of Service and how you can fix them.
When entering data manually, issues like mathematical errors, poor handwriting, the omission of essential information, and many other mistakes, may arise. These are issues that can be minimized by implementing an electronic system that automatically fills in the required data when it is needed. Tired drivers can easily leave out essential data, which could be deemed a violation of the hours of service regulations.
The driver record of duty status graph shown on a log must always be up to date, showing each detail of changes. Forgetting, or simply failing to update duty status is common among drivers and leads to severe roadside inspections. It is mostly due to drivers failing on their mandate to remain vigilant by changing statuses.
It is easy to fix this recurring problem with the simple touch of a screen. All drivers have to do is to indicate the time their shifts start, and to change their status to off-duty when shifts end. Electronic logbooks are designed to detect when a vehicle is stationary or in motion, and gives accurate data at all times.
Failing to properly maintain your RODS and not maintaining logs for seven days is a violation that can lead to hefty fines. Drivers of companies running smaller vehicles may not be aware of what is required of them, but they must check with the relevant authorities. Inspectors ask for records of the previous seven days. Therefore, drivers must not misplace any record whatsoever.
Azuga works with you to deliver customized solutions for fleets and drivers. It doesn’t matter the size of your fleet, Azuga offers the right products and technology to duly maintain drivers’ records of duty status and keep you compliant with the hours of service regulations.
If you utilize company vehicles during the course of business, you might want to familiarize yourself with enterprise fleet management and maintenance. Operating a fleet can be a challenge. Luckily there are things that you can do to make your life a lot easier. In this article, we will answer what is an enterprise fleet? Plus, we’ll outline four key tips you should know about enterprise fleet management and an additional three tips about enterprise fleet maintenance.
An enterprise fleet, simply put, is a fleet of vehicles leased or owned by a business. Automotive Fleet Magazine defines enterprise fleets as commercial entities with 15 or greater vehicles. A wide range of businesses operate enterprise fleets. For example, delivery businesses and many businesses who do on-site service calls or have representatives travel to meet with clients have enterprise fleets.
The enterprise fleet industry is huge in the United States. Automotive Magazine recently released a report that outlines the number of cars and trucks that are leased or owned by enterprise fleets in the United States. Fleets in the U.S. leased 431,000 vehicles last year and owned 204,000 vehicles. There are a total of 727,000 trucks being leased by enterprise fleets and 1,860,000 trucks are owned by them.
In some areas, enterprise fleets are also made up of vehicles that are privately owned (or leased) by employees but used for business purposes. These are known as “grey fleet” vehicles.
Enterprise fleet management can be a challenge. It’s a fast-paced job that requires you to stay on your toes. Fleet managers are often responsible for drivers and accountable to management. Below are four tips on how to excel in enterprise fleet management:
When a business lacks purchasing and disposal guidelines for fleet vehicles they may be giving up thousands of dollars through inefficiencies. Consistency is very important in enterprise fleet management.
Your company should look into bulk purchasing and understand the right time or number of miles at which to best sell a vehicle. Enterprise fleet managers should spec out options for fleet vehicles and assemble a purchasing plan. In addition, they should gain insight into the optimal time to dispose of fleet vehicles.
Fleet drivers face a whole host of distractions and safety hazards on the job. Great fleet managers know how to get ahead of things that might become problems. Invest in safety before accidents happen.
Investing in safety may look like hands-free devices for your drivers, installing an app that monitors driver behavior on their phones, or an in-cab camera that oversees drivers while they’re on the road. Ultimately, being proactive about safety will save your company money in the long run.
Many fleet managers find it useful to incentivize drivers to perform well. Drivers may be encouraged to achieve higher fuel efficiency or perform vehicle inspections regularly. No matter what goal you set, you should hold your drivers to a high-performance standard.
Driver behavior monitoring makes it simple to set goals and encourage safe driving habits. Actionable goals help managers encourage drivers to improve their driving habits.
The best fleet managers know that the fleet industry is constantly changing and it's vital that managers keep up. Top fleet managers join industry associations, read trade publications and blogs, and overall keep up with what is happening in the industry.
Often fleet managers will discover new technologies to adopt when reading up on the fleet industry. This helps them keep ahead of the competition. With so much information readily available online, it’s never been easier for fleet managers to keep up-to-date and ahead of the curve.
Fleet maintenance is integral to running a top-performing enterprise fleet. Here are three tips on how to excel at enterprise fleet maintenance:
Pay attention to your maintenance costs and make note when they start to rise because of a vehicle’s age. Make sure you comprehend the warranty coverage provided by the manufacturer and the way it impacts the vehicle’s total cost of ownership. Those who excel at enterprise fleet management understand trends in the used vehicle market, the residual value of fleet vehicles, and the best time to sell fleet vehicles to obtain a cost-effective enterprise fleet.
A vital part of fleet maintenance is performing specs on vehicles. It’s important that this job is performed well. You should be aware of the demands your fleet vehicles will face. Make sure to outline vehicle usage.
The danger is that under-specing a fleet vehicle can lead to maintenance issues down the line that could put a dent in your budget. On the other hand, an over-spec’d fleet vehicle can also increase costs. Great fleet managers know the criteria involved with specing (operating conditions, what’s being carried, usage, etc.) and try to make theirs as accurate as possible.
One of the most important things to understand about enterprise fleet maintenance is the cost savings involved in preventative maintenance. Well-maintained fleet vehicles are less likely to require unscheduled downtime or repairs. Some examples of preventative maintenance are general vehicle safety checks, oil changes, and tire rotation, and inspection. Make sure to perform these activities on a regular schedule.
Good enterprise fleet management practices help leaders in the fleet management industry achieve more. Take your fleet to the next level when you implement smart technology like Azuga Fleet™. The Azuga team is here to help boost your fleet’s productivity, improve safety, and save you hundreds each year.
If you’re a fleet owner, fleet manager, or even fleet driver, you should know about the OBD-II port. It’s a standardized diagnostic port that allows you to access data from the computer in a vehicle’s engine. GPS trackers can be installed in a vehicle’s OBD-II port to provide live engine and trip data to a central hub or the driver.
In this article we will outline the basics of OBD-II ports, the history of the OBD-II port, and detailed specs on the OBD-II port pinout. Vehicles are integral to fleets and understanding the OBD-II port is essential to getting the most out of yours.
So what exactly is the OBD-II port? To start out let’s break down the abbreviation. “OBD” stands for “on-board diagnostics.” It refers to the vehicle’s electronic system that provides self-diagnostics and reporting features. This system is used by repair technicians to gain access to subsystem information in order to monitor the vehicle’s performance and properly repair it.
On-board diagnostics (OBD) is the uniform protocol that is used in most light-duty vehicles in order to access the vehicle’s diagnostic information. This information is produced by the vehicle’s engine control unit (ECU, also known as the engine control module). The engine control unit acts as the “brain” of the vehicle.
A vehicle’s OBD-II is a computer that monitors mileage, emissions, speed, and additional data about the vehicle. It’s connected to the vehicle’s dashboard and will alert the driver if any issues are detected (by turning on the check engine light for example).
The OBD-II port is accessible from inside the vehicle. It will generally be located under the dash on the driver’s side. It enables a mechanic (or anyone else with a specialized tool) to read the error code generated by the engine. Looking to install GPS trackers in your fleet vehicles? Check out our comprehensive guide to learn more about where these devices are installed.
The origins of the OBD-II port began in the 1960s. Some of the organizations involved in the preliminary framework for the standard were the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the California Air Resources Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Organization for Standardization.
The first on-board diagnostics system that had the capacity to be scanned to check for issues with the vehicle’s engine was introduced by Volkswagen in 1968. Over ten years later, Datsun released a very basic on-board diagnostics system. Jump forward to 1980, when General Motors revealed a proprietary system including interface and protocol that was able to generate engine diagnostics and alert the driver via a check engine light. At the same time, other car manufacturers were introducing their own versions of on-board diagnostics.
Up until this time, before standardization hit the industry, manufacturers created their own proprietary systems. This meant the tools required to diagnose different vehicle’s engines were all different. They had their own connector type, requirements for electronic interface, and each used custom codes for reporting problems.
Standardization finally came to on-board diagnostics in the late 1980s. In 1988 the Society of Automotive Engineers released a recommendation that called for a standard connector pin and set of diagnostics across the industry.
In 1991 the state of California mandated that all vehicles have some form of basic on-board diagnostics. This is known as OBD-I, a precursor to the OBD-II port.
OBD-II was created three years later, in 1994. In that year California required all vehicles sold (starting in 1996) to have on-board diagnostics as recommended by SAE. This is known as OBD-II. California introduced the legislation primarily in order to perform across-the-board emissions testing on vehicles. Due to California’s legislation, in 1996 car manufacturers started to install OBD-II ports in all cars and trucks across the country.
OBD-II introduced standardized diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). There is a slight variation among OBD-II systems. These variations are known as protocols. They are specific to vehicle manufacturers and there are five basic signal protocols:
The OBD-II port pinout gives access to the engine’s status information and Diagnostic Trouble Codes. The DTCs cover a number of aspects of the vehicle including powertrain (engine and transmission) and emission control systems. The OBD-II pinout also provides further information including the vehicle identification number (VIN), Calibration Identification Number, ignition counter, and emissions control system counters.
These DTCs are stored in a computer system. It’s important to note that these codes vary between manufacturers. There are trouble codes for a wide range of aspects of the vehicle including powertrain (including engine, transmission, emissions), chassis, body, and network. The list of standard diagnostic trouble codes is extensive.
If a fleet vehicle is brought to a shop to be serviced, the mechanic can connect to the vehicle’s OBD-II port pinout with a standardized scanning tool to read the error codes and identify the issue. The OBD-II port lets mechanics accurately diagnose issues with your fleet’s vehicles, inspect them promptly, and fix any issues before they become major problems. Ultimately the OBD-II port helps get your fleet vehicles back on the road faster and stay there longer.
Any OBD-II scan tool can read DTCs due to the standardized pinout. Scanning tools have the capacity to read from any of the 5 protocols. The standardized OBD-II port pinout is as follows:
Pin 1: Utilized by manufacturer
Pin 2: Utilized by SAE J1850 PWM and VPW
Pin 3: Utilized by manufacturer
Pin 4: Ground
Pin 5: Ground
Pin 6: Utilized by ISO 15765-4 CAN
Pin 7: ISO 14230-4 and The K-Line of ISO 9141-2
Pin 10: Utilized solely by SAE J1850 PWM
Pin 14: Utilized by ISO 15765-4 CAN
Pin 15: ISO 14230-4 and the K-Line of ISO 9141-2
Pin 16: Power from the vehicle’s battery
Your fleet vehicle's OBD-II ports may be small but they can play a big role in helping your fleet succeed. To learn about what OBD-II ports can be used to help your fleet succeed check out Azuga Fleet. This smart fleet tracking software will allow you to take your company to the next level without the growing pains.