Happy New Year! Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to make those resolutions.

Whether it’s to improve your vehicle maintenance record, boost retention rates, mitigate driver violations or revamp your safety training program — or all of the above — January is the time to put a plan into motion.   

But just like having a personal trainer at the gym, you don’t have to go about tackling your goals alone. 

Brian Runnels, Reliance Partners’ vice president of safety, encourages motor carriers to work closely with their insurance providers or third-party safety representatives to develop a plan with realistic and attainable objectives.

“Goals are great, but if you don’t have a road map to achieve those goals, there really isn’t much use to having the goals in the first place,” Runnels said. “If you’re not getting those resources, reach out to us. We at Reliance Partners will be happy to speak with you.”

Reliance Partners provides industry-leading safety consulting to motor carriers of all sizes. Offering detailed in-person risk assessments, its robust team of safety experts will identify violations and areas in need of improvement within your company and step you through the process of mitigating these risks and establishing a culture of safety.

Motor carriers that enroll in and stick with a safety program like Reliance Partners’ see their CSA scores greatly improve as a result of building a better safety culture.

One such company told Runnels that its New Year’s resolution is to get better fuel mileage in 2023. It plans to achieve this by lowering the governing speed from 72 to 68 miles per hour.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you can save one-tenth of a gallon per mile, well, once you start adding that by a hundred trucks over a year-long process, that’s a good chunk of change,” Runnels said.

“Anytime you slow down even just a little bit you’ll have more time to react when there’s an issue in front of you … so I think they’re going to see their accident rates go down.”

Once companies commit to a goal, Reliance Partners’ loss control team will check in quarterly to ensure that progress is being made. Runnels stressed the importance of collaboration, as it’s harder to achieve your goals alone. 

“As a business owner, maybe that’s something that you look into for 2023, asking yourself, ‘What kind of assistance am I getting from my partners?’” Runnels said.

Third-party expertise may be just what’s needed to uncover problems that have gone undetected for far too long. Runnels recalled helping a motor carrier identify why it was experiencing an uptick in accidents.

Upon reviewing the company and its processes, Runnels noticed that its drivers, who petitioned for more home time, were still driving long distances daily. They wanted both the long miles and at-home time.

Though the company had shrunk its operating area to ensure that its fleet could be home nightly, its drivers still wanted the same amount of miles, so they were pushing harder. “And when you push harder, typically bad things happen,” he said.

“The problem they had before was that drivers weren’t getting to go home, so they wanted to leave. Now drivers aren’t getting the miles and they’re wanting to leave,” Runnels said, explaining that scaling back the operating area meant drivers had to haul more to make more.

With pay based on miles driven in a smaller operational area, Runnels suggested that changing the pay structure could mitigate the need to push harder.

“On my next visit with them I’ll say, ‘OK, now that we’ve recognized the problem, what have you done to improve or address the issue?’” Runnels said.

Whether the issue is visible or if you’re just curious to know where you’re most at risk, Runnels recommends that every motor carrier work more closely with the safety partners they have.

“Whatever you were struggling with last year, start doing proactive training to avoid it in 2023.”

Click for more FreightWaves content by Jack Glenn.

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