Rising equipment costs and driver wages led to an increase in operational costs in 2014, according to a comprehensive report from the American Transportation Research Institute.

ATRI’s report, An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking, found that the average marginal cost per mile in 2014 was $1.70 compared with $1.68 in 2013. This comes despite decreasing fuel costs in the same period of time.

Increases in truck and trailer lease and purchase payments were at the root of the cost per mile increase, especially in the specialized sector. This was largely due to increases in freight demand that required many carriers to repair or replace older equipment.

The driver shortage also played a significant role by putting upward pressure on costs as carriers spent more money on recruiting and retaining drivers.

From 2013 to 2014, fuel dropped from 38% to 34% of the share of a carrier’s average total cost, the lowest it had been since 2010. However the share of costs from equipment rose from 10% to 13%. There was a slight increase in the cost share of driver wages from 26% to 27%.

Specialized carriers had the highest cost per mile in 2014 at $1.85 due to an increase in specialized truck and trailer lease costs as well as an increase in insurance costs.

Specialized carriers also reported the highest average driver wages at 51.6 cents per mile.  Less-than-truckload carriers usually have the highest costs per mile and in 2014, those were slightly lower at $1.83. Truckload carriers had the lowest cost per mile at $1.58.

The annully updated ATRI cost analysis examines financial data provided by carriers to document and analyze trucking costs from 2008 through 2014. 

The full report with a more complete breakdown of the numbers is available via the ATRI website.