The American Transportation Research Institute released its analysis on the operational costs of trucking. The research was sponsored by ATRI's Research Advisory Committee to provide more realistic inputs for freight and transportation programs and models currently in use.

In response to mounting infrastructure improvement needs and dwindling state budgets, policy makers - led by the U.S. Department of Transportation, have begun embracing creative financing strategies. In attempting to justify certain new truck fees such as congestion pricing, the time/distance value of operating a truck is often overstated. Alternatively, certain programs underestimate truck costs when the industry seeks increased program funding.

"Operational costs are difficult to benchmark due to variations in the way companies account for different costs, however, the marketplace is in need of current data," said John Culp, chief financial officer for Maverick USA. "Some of the industry data being used today for infrastructure investment considerations is 10 years old or more."

Total marginal costs for the industry were $1.73 per mile and $83.68 per hour. Marginal costs were divided into vehicle- and driver-based. Top costs for carriers were diesel fuel/oil, driver wages and truck/trailer lease or purchase payments.

The analysis of operational costs was based on marginal cost data that accrue from operating a truck for a mile or an hour in a standard operating environment. Fixed costs were not included, since they are generally unaffected by system impacts such as congestion or external factors such as fuel price fluctuations.

The research, which generated data from detailed carrier surveys and interviews, isolated dozens of cost centers for for-hire and private fleets. The data that is being made publicly available includes marginal operational costs that are differentiated by major sectors, fleet sizes and geographic regions. Within those groupings, marginal costs are broken out by expense categories that include driver compensation, maintenance, fuel/oil, vehicle purchases/leases, tires, taxes, credentials and particular types of insurance, among others.

A summary of the findings is available on ATRI's web site at You also can order a full hard copy of the report at the web site.