Congestion Creates $74.5 Billion Burden for Trucking, ATRI Study Shows

Article from Transport Topics October 18, 2018

Traffic congestion on the nation’s highways added $74.5 billion in operational costs to the trucking industry in 2016, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s recent analysis.

ATRI’s “Cost of Congestion to the Trucking Industry” update, released Oct. 18, relied on data from ATRI’s GPS systems and the Federal Highway Administration to determine what costs the industry incurred from clogged roads. This year’s figure marks a 0.5% increase from the updated 2015 figure of $74.1 billion.

Top 10 States by Total Congestion Costs

1. Texas

2. Florida

3. California

4. New York

5. New Jersey

6. Illinois

7. Pennsylvania

8. Tennessee

9. Ohio

10. North Carolina

The report notes that road delays added up to 1.2 billion hours in lost productivity, which is tantamount to 425,533 truck drivers sitting idle for an entire year.

“Motor carriers are directly affected by congestion through increased operating costs; traffic congestion results in wasted fuel, increased labor costs, safety costs and vehicle wear and tear,” ATRI’s analysis states. “Secondary impacts of congestion on trucking include inefficiencies in the nation’s supply chain as pickup and delivery schedules are impacted by traffic delays.”

Distributing $74.5 billion across the 11.5 million large trucks registered in the United States means congestion costs each truck $6,478.

ATRI found that the majority of congestion occurs on relatively short portions of road in urban areas. Some 86.7% of congestion costs occurred on 17.2% of National Highway System miles.

The list of top 10 states ranked by total congestion costs held steady with last year’s report, although the ranking order shifted slightly.

Texas’ total congestion cost was $6.3 billion.

More than 91% of 2016’s total congestion costs occurred in metropolitan areas. The New York City-Newark-Jersey City area again topped the list with $4.9 billion. Second was Chicago, with $2.2 billion in costs.

A few of the cities on the list, such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta, also appear on ATRI’s list of cities that house the most congested freight bottlenecks.

“Perhaps no other issue has as great an impact on this nation’s supply chain as traffic congestion,” Ruan CEO Ben McLean said. “In the face of growing and pervasive congestion, not only does the trucking industry lose billions annually, but ultimately the consumer pays the price through higher prices on the shelf.

“Doing nothing to address the state of our nation’s infrastructure will create a significant impediment to the growth of our economy.”

Ruan ranks No. 41 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

Truck and car congestion