Congestion on California freeways Photo: U.S. DOT

Congestion on California freeways Photo: U.S. DOT

Traffic congestion on highways drove operational costs for trucking up by more than $49.6 billion in 2014, according to analysis by the American Transportation Research Institute released on April 19.

The research group said its findings also reveal the impact of congestion costs on a per-truck basis-- with an average increased cost of $26,625 for trucks that travel 150,000 miles annually.

In addition, ATRI said it has created a congestion-cost database "to provide granular cost information to transportation planning officials on the hours of delay and associated cost by major jurisdiction type and road level."

ATRI noted that for this analysis, it used a variety of data sources as well as a revised methodology that expanded its previous cost-of-congestion research from the Interstate System to the entire National Highway System network.

“This [data] resulted in calculated delay totaling more than 728 million hours of lost productivity, which equates to 264,500 commercial truck drivers sitting idle for a working year,” the group stated.

The analysis also documented the states, metropolitan areas, and counties that were most impacted by congestion delays and subsequent increased costs.  More than a dozen states experienced increased costs of over $1 billion each due to congestion, with Florida and Texas leading with over $4 billion each. 

Congestion tended to be the most severe in urban areas, with 88% of the congestion costs concentrated on only 18% of the network mileage, and 95% of the total congestion cost occurring in metropolitan areas.  The research group said that this “concentration of congestion” has been well-documented in its ongoing work that annually identifies the worst truck bottlenecks in the U.S.

"Unfortunately we've come to expect traffic congestion as a part of our daily lives, but ATRI's latest analysis illustrates what a significant productivity drain that congestion is on our industry and the economy at large," David Congdon, CEO of Old Dominion Freight Line, remarked in a news release on the research.

Related: TxDOT Reduces Truck Tolls for Congestion-Relief Effort