If you’re in the trucking industry, you know you have to adhere to CSA2010 compliance, the new compliance program from the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration)—but you might not know what that entails. Given that it’s a new program, not everyone has heard all of the implications, and very few companies have even seen it in action. Some may view the whole process as another instance of “Big Brother” government oppression, but the system works as just an effort to keep companies functional and their employees safe.

The complete CSA2010 compliance system is actually termed the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, or CSA for short. Those who administrate it work by maintaining standards, reviews, and procedures—details that truck companies rarely have to see. Their main interaction with CSA, however, is in another acronym, the SMS: Safety Measurement System.

Actually the heart of CSA2010 compliance, the SMS is a system that collects data from all inspections and crash reports. These findings are placed into seven safety factor categories: unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, controlled substances (alcohol), crash involvement, cargo, and vehicle maintenance. Not all crashes lay blame on truck drivers, and this range of categories takes that into account. With these ratings, the FMCSA can determine which companies most closely adhere to standards—and are, therefore, the most reliable and trustworthy to customers. Because the CSA reports are made public, potential customers can observe the histories and reviews of each trucking company and determine then which one to choose. It works as full accountability for the companies; in doing so it creates safer roads for truckers and non-commercial drivers alike.