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How is the severity weight of a violation determined?

The Compliance, Safety & Accountability (CSA) program uses data that it obtains from crash data and roadside inspection reports to identify drivers with unsafe driving behaviors. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) may intervene with these drivers at a later time. Violations are assigned a severity weight that depends on many different factors. We’ll give a brief explanation of how a violation’s severity weight is determined.

How the program works

If there is an inspection violation that applies to a BASIC category, it is given a “severity weight”. To put it simply, the severity weight indicates the risk of a crash due to the violation.

To briefly review the BASIC, or Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement, categories, they are:

With the adjusted measures in place, the CSA assigns scores in each BASIC category expressed as a percentile rank. Carriers with deficient scores, when compared to other carriers with similar violations or inspections, will receive priority for FMCSA intervention. (This is why it’s important to commit to safety and keep track of your BASIC scores.)

Assigning a weight to violations and crashes

The CSA assigns a weight to violations and crashes according to severity and time since the incident occurred after placing the safety event in the appropriate BASIC category. Newer and more severe violations receive greater weight. The weight assigned to each violation is directly related to crash risk or the fact that a crash already occurred. When assigning points to crashes, any crash severe enough to cause a fatality or an injury receives greater weight, as do crashes that result in a tow-away.

The point scale ranges from one to 10 with 10 indicating the most severe violations. If the driver received an out-of-service order due to a severe violation, the CSA will assign an additional two points.

Some examples of points assigned to various violations include:

  • 10 points for reckless driving
  • 7 points for not wearing a seatbelt
  • 5 points for not changing lanes properly

(Each BASIC has an extensive list of potential violations and the points that would be assigned for them.)

All safety events remain on a commercial driver’s record for a period of 24 months. During the first six months after the occurrence, the CSA weights the event three times as much as events that occurred between 12 and 24 months ago. Those in the six to 12-month range receive double weighting.

This might all seem complicated, but it’s important to understand the impact of certain violations. The FMCSA takes safety seriously, so make sure you understand the safety regulations and such that you’re required to follow.

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