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Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) and Drivers - Separating Fact from Fiction

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With the launch of the CSA Safety Measurement System (SMS) in December 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) continues to receive questions from drivers. Below is a slightly updated reprint of an earlier What’s New entry separating fact from fiction regarding CSA and drivers.

FMCSA is committed to providing all stakeholders with factual and timely information on CSA. As part of this commitment, it is important that commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers are aware of how CSA affects them.

Drivers, we have heard and appreciate your questions on issues ranging from the Driver Safety Measurement System (DSMS) to the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). Here are the FACTS:

What is the DSMS?

The SMS assesses a carrier’s safety performance based on its roadside violations and crashes. The DSMS is a tool within the SMS used by enforcement staff only. Its primary purpose is to help enforcement staff assess driver safety as part of motor carrier investigations. The DSMS does this by identifying which of a motor carrier’s drivers to examine during that carrier’s compliance review.  This enforcement tool uses a subset of violations to evaluate an individual driver’s safety performance across employers. Appendix A in the SMS Methodology Report shows the violations used in the DSMS.

Who can see the DSMS?

Only enforcement staff have access to the DSMS for use during motor carrier safety investigations. Neither drivers nor employing motor carriers have access to the DSMS. While some third party vendors are developing and marketing CSA driver scorecards, these companies do not have access to full driver violation histories in FMCSA databases. FMCSA has not and will not validate any vendors’ scorecards or data.

What is the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) and how does it impact CSA?

PSP is a new, voluntary FMCSA program mandated by Congress that is designed to assist the motor carrier industry in assessing individual drivers’ safety performance as part of the hiring process. PSP is a completely separate program from CSA. Additionally, PSP contains 3 years of inspection reports and 5 years of crash reports; however,  it does not provide a rating, score, or formal assessment of any kind. Drivers are encouraged to obtain and review their PSP report before applying for new jobs and request a review of any potentially inaccurate data through FMCSA’s DataQs program. While the PSP is not part of CSA, the safety data accessible through PSP is the same data that the DSMS and enforcement staff use during motor carrier investigations. For more information about PSP, visit FMCSA’s PSP Website at psp.fmcsa.dot.gov. For more information about DataQs, visit dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov.

Will FMCSA use CSA to remove CMV drivers from their jobs?

NO CSA does not give FMCSA new authority to remove drivers from their jobs and DSMS information is not publicly shared in the way that motor carrier safety data is today. Other important facts related to driver employment are outlined below.

  • Carriers will not inherit any of a newly hired driver’s past violations. Only those inspections and crashes that a driver is involved in while operating under a carrier’s authority can be applied to a carrier’s SMS data.
  • Similar to the previous system, SafeStat, tickets or warnings that drivers receive while operating their personal vehicles do not count in the new SMS.
  • Neither FMCSA nor CSA restricts drivers based on BMI, weight, or neck size.
  • Drivers should review current and potential motor carrier employers’ SMS data which is located at http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms. Drivers and carriers with strong safety histories stand to benefit from the new compliance and enforcement program.

Can FMCSA use CSA to revoke a driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL)?

NOCSA does not give FMCSA the authority to revoke a CDL. Only state agencies responsible for issuing CDLs have the authority to suspend or revoke them.

The CDL Program is completely separate from CSA. FMCSA has developed and issued standards for the testing and licensing of CDL holders. These standards require states to issue CDLs only after the driver has passed knowledge and skills tests related to the type of vehicle the driver expects to operate.

The data kept by a state (i.e. tickets, citations, written warnings, convictions) and the data that are kept by the Federal government and used in the DSMS (i.e. violations from roadside inspections and crash reports) are separate.  Drivers can review their state data by requesting their Motor Vehicle Record (MVR). Drivers may review the data kept by the Federal government through the PSP program referenced above and may request a review of the Federal data through FMCSA’s DataQs system (dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov/login.asp).

How does CSA affect a motor carriers’ employment of CMV drivers?

Under CSA, FMCSA continues to hold motor carriers responsible for the safety performance of the drivers they employ. This is a longstanding FMCSA position and is not unique to CSA. All inspections and crashes that a driver receives while under the authority of a carrier will remain part of the carrier’s SMS data for two years unless overturned through the DataQs system, even if the carrier terminates the driver.

FMCSA’s CSA website is the official resource for information about this new safety program. We encourage drivers and all stakeholders to visit the CSA Website http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov and sign up to receive regular updates by email at csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/stay_connected.aspx.
Know the facts, be prepared.

Thank You,
CSA Web Team
USDOT/Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration