Home Truck News U.S. congestion cost $7,000 per truck in 2021: ATRI - Truck News

U.S. congestion cost $7,000 per truck in 2021: ATRI – Truck News

Highway traffic congestion cost the trucking industry an additional US$94.6 billion in 2021, marking the highest level ever recorded by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) in its latest report.

Traffic and delays sacrificed 1.27 billion hours in productivity, with average congestion costs calculated at almost $7,000 per truck. (All figures in USD.) More than 6.7 billion US gallons (25.4 billion liters) of diesel were wasted, worth more than $22 billion.

The 2021 congestion numbers and costs represent a 27% increase from the report’s baseline year of 2016 – twice the rate of inflation. “This level of delay equates to more than 460,000 commercial truck drivers sitting idle for one work year,” ATRI says.

U.S. highway congestion
(Photo: istock)

Even though congestion-related costs decreased in 2020 due to the pandemic, they rose sharply the next year. This can be explained by several factors, including GDP growth that reached 5.7% in 2021, the highest growth rate since 1984, the institute says.

Recovery from the pandemic played a role, too. Consumer spending returned, driving up prices and leading to inflation. Lifting work-from-home requirements caused increased commuter traffic. Diesel prices also increased, just like trucking rates and volumes.

State-specific congestion costs

ATRI concluded that California was the state with the highest congestion costs, seeing an 80% increase since 2016. It is followed by Texas, which had the highest costs six years ago.

While Ohio and North Carolina dropped off the Top 10 states in terms of congestion costs, Louisiana and Georgia made the list in 2021. Both states saw a congestion-related cost spike of more than 80%, which makes them two out of the top three states with the highest percentage increase.

Nevada, meanwhile, recorded the highest increase overall at 117.2%.

The states that have seen a decrease in costs are Alaska, Wyoming, Hawaii, Minnesota and South Carolina. However, the changes weren’t too significant. For example, the biggest decrease of 20% was in Alaska, and South Carolina saw a drop of just 0.1%.

Congestion costs were highest in the New York City, Miami and Chicago metropolitan areas. However, their cost increases were relatively low, between 11 and 17%.

The report also documented transportation investments by states through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which could provide as much as $350 billion in funding to address congestion.

“Over the last several years, our industry has experienced some of the most dramatic increases in operating costs, including fuel, labor and equipment,” said Michael Lasko, vice-president of EHS and quality at Boyle Transportation, in a press release.

“Imagine how those costs are magnified by sitting still in traffic. We all should keep in mind that those costs are passed down directly to consumers resulting in higher prices for goods and services throughout the economy.  Hopefully, we can leverage the new infrastructure spending to get our supply chains moving again.”


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