BASIC Scores: What Are They and Why Should You Care?

BASIC Scores: What Are They and Why Should You Care?

One of the most useful features of Transportation Data Source’s service is the ability to see trucking carriers’ and fleets’ safety scores. These are coined as the “BASICs” — standing for Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories. Prior to December 4th, 2015, BASIC scores were public record. The FAST act of 2015 put an end to these public record and the FMCSA took them off of their website.


These scores track 5 main things:

  • Unsafe driving
  • Hours of Service (HOS) compliance
  • Driver fitness
  • Controlled substances and alcohol
  • Vehicle maintenance


These categories are updated every month for every company with a DOT number in the United States. Transportation Data Source has reverse-engineered the BASIC scores and is able to offer these scores to their customers faster than any other fleet monitoring company. While most of our customers pay attention to the 5 categories, many are unaware of exactly what each category entails and which scores should be considered “good” or “bad”. We’ll begin by highlighting each category and what it contains. 


1. Unsafe Driving


Unsafe driving is self-explanatory, but just to be sure, it’s defined as “operation of a motor vehicle by a driver in a dangerous, careless, or neglectful manner”. This includes an array of different violations. The most popular are speeding, reckless driving, texting while driving, following too close, and improper passing. These are cited by police officers and reported to the DOT and FMCSA. The violations are weighted on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being least risky and 10 as most risky. Violations rated as a 1 are usually citations for improperly securing a parked vehicle, speeding 1-5 MPH over the limit, unauthorized passenger on board, etc. Violations that are rated as 10 are highly dangerous actions — texting while driving, speeding in a work zone, and reckless driving.


2. Hours of Service Compliance


Typically known by the acronym HOS, this category is reserved to drivers that are ill, fatigued, or in non-compliance with the HOS regulations. The violations in this category are largely regulated by ELDs and carry the same weighted rating system as Unsafe Driving violations. Some of the more severe violations include: driving after being declared out-of-service, operating a CMV while ill or fatigued, 16 hour rule violation, and falsely reporting driver’s record of duty status. On the lower end, we’ve got minor violations: onboard recording device malfunctions, log violations, and driver not retaining logs from the 7 previous days. 


3. Driver Fitness


Driver fitness is based solely on how quickly a driver can run one mile. If a driver can reach a 5-minute mile, their fitness score is deemed “satisfactory”.


We’re kidding. That’s not the type of “fitness” we’re talking about. In this case, it’s meant to convey whether a driver is fit or unfit to drive a CMV due to a variety of factors including lack of training, medical qualifications, or experience. There are very few serious violations in this category, one of them being a failure to comply with imminent hazard OOS order. There are also very few minor violations and are usually consisting of a driver not possessing necessary identification or paperwork. Most violations fall into a moderate category (6-8 points). Examples include disqualified drivers, improper vehicle or equipment endorsement, and operating without a CDL. 


4. Controlled Substances & Alcohol


This category is rather self-explanatory as well. If a driver is driving while impaired by any substances, it falls into this category. We don’t believe that we need to stress how dangerous and unprofessional any violation in this category is. We will, however, reiterate this: Don’t drink and drive! There are no minor violations in this category. All violations carry serious consequences for the driver and the company. Violations are issued if a driver is found in possession of illegal drugs, intoxicating beverages while on duty, is found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol 4 hours prior to duty, or is detected with any measure of alcohol or drugs in the system while driving. Most of these violations carry a severity weight of 10, while some carry 5. 


5. Vehicle Maintenance


Compliance in this category requires thorough communication and cooperation between driver and company. It is the responsibility of each company to ensure all of their equipment is properly installed, functional, and maintained so that each driver is safe to operate their vehicle. Most violations are minor and carry between 1-3 severity, while a few rank up into the 8-10 range. The lighter side features oil leaks, seats not properly secured, exhaust leaks, inoperative horns, and other basic fixes. The more serious side mostly consists of tire violations, while occasionally seeing an “operating an OOS vehicle” citation.

trucking basic scores

All of these categories are routinely updated in the TDS system so brokers, carriers, insurance agents, and others can monitor their fleets effectively. The TDS BASICs scores have been proven to be 99% accurate when compared to federal scores, and continue to improve over time.


The lower a score, the better a carrier is performing. With that being said, everyone makes mistakes and it’s up to each individual to judge for themselves whether a score is satisfactory to them and their business. TDS allows users to customize each category’s threshold so you are warned about a carrier exactly when you choose.


If you’re interested in learning more about BASIC scores or getting a free demo of Transportation Data Source, fill out the form below and we’ll reach out to schedule a personal demo. You can also call us at (877) 740-9110.



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