The average marginal cost per mile for 2011 was $1.71, the highest rate since 2008. This data comes from the American Transportation Research Institute's findings in its 2012 update to An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking.

The research, which identifies trucking costs from 2008 to 2011 derived directly from fleet operations, gives carriers a high-level benchmarking tool and government agencies with real-world data for future infrastructure improvement analyses.

The study found that after a sharp decline in fuel prices resulted in decreased industry costs between 2008 and 2009, industry costs have steadily risen through 2010 and 2011. Fuel and driver wages (excluding benefits) continued to be the largest cost centers for carriers, together constituting 62% of the average operating cost in 2011.

"The driver shortage, increasing insurance costs and Compliance, Safety, Accountablility CSA impacts also put upward pressure on industry costs, as carriers increased wages to recruit and retain qualified drivers. After falling in 2008 and 2009, driver wages increased in 2010 and 2011," the study states.

The report continues on to state that lease or purchase payments made up about 11% of the costs in 2011, 9% for repair and maintenance and driver benefits respectively, and insurance costs made up 4%.

"Accurate, up-to-date operational costs are essential for our industry," says Chad England, chief operating officer of C.R. England Inc. and a member of ATRI's Research Advisory Committee. "Given the current economic climate, the more financial data carriers have to analyze, the more opportunities there are to improve operations."

In addition to average costs per mile, ATRI's report documents average costs per hour and includes cost breakouts by industry sector.

A copy of this report is available from ATRI at