The American Transportation Research Institute’s 2023 update to An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking indicated total marginal costs reached a record high in 2022.
ATRI reported for the second year in a row total marginal costs climbed to a new high, increasing by 21.3% over 2021 to $2.251 per mile.
Fuel and Driver Costs
Though fuel was the largest driver of this spike (53.7% higher than in 2021), multiple other line items also rose by double digits, according to the report. Driver wages increased by 15.5%, to $0.724 per mile, reflecting the ongoing industry effort to attract and retain drivers. Driver benefits, ATRI noted, remained stable in 2022.
Atypical market conditions posed unique challenges for acquiring and maintaining equipment in 2022, the research found.
Truck and trailer payments increased by 18.6% to $0.331 per mile as carriers paid higher prices, largely due to equipment impediments in the supply chains. Closely related, parts shortages and rising technician labor rates pushed repair and maintenance costs up 12% to $0.196 per mile.
In response to rising costs, motor carriers initiated improvements in key operational efficiencies, the survey indicated. For example, driver turnover, detention times, and equipment utilization each improved across nearly every fleet size and sector during 2022. This year’s report includes new metrics such as mileage between breakdowns and the ratio of truck drivers to non-driving employees.
Despite falling rates throughout the year, average operating margins were at least 6% in all sectors. While larger fleets’ average operating margins improved from 2021 to 2022, smaller fleets saw operating margins decline.
“In a softening market with costs rising at an unparalleled pace, carrier benchmarking becomes more critical than ever,” said Dave Broering, president of NFI Integrated Logistics. “ATRI’s newest Operational Costs report provides the reliable data and analysis we need to better understand our partners’ underlying costs in a volatile economy and decelerating rate marketplace.”
ATRI reported a record number of motor carriers participated in this year’s research, which analyzes a wide variety of line-item costs, operating efficiencies, and revenue benchmarks by fleet size and sector. Since 2008, ATRI has received over 31,000 requests for Operational Costs reports.
A copy of the full report is available through ATRI's website here.