Traffic congestion added more than $63.4 billion in operational costs to the trucking industry in 2015, according to the American Transportation Research Institute's 2017 Cost of Congestion update.
This number represents a significant jump from ATRI’s 2016 report, which quantified added operational costs at $49.6 billion in 2014. In 2015, the trucking industry experienced more than 996 million hours of delays on the national highway system, up from 728 million hours the year before. To put it in perspective, this lost productivity is equivalent to 362,243 truck drivers sitting idle for an entire working year, according to ATRI.
As much as 91% of congestion is in urban areas. This problem is made worse by increased e-commerce, which translates into more trucks on roads in urban areas.
“We are getting to a point where there is high consumer demand,” said Rebecca Brewster, president and chief operating officer of ATRI. “When the infrastructure can’t handle the increased traffic, we have the situation that we have now.”
Urban area infrastructure is at the core of congestion-related costs. Urban congestion made up 76% of the $13.9 billion increase in congestion costs from 2014-2015. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan area in Florida was accountable for over $2 billion in congestion costs alone, more than the entire rest of the state combined. Focusing on congestion in bottleneck areas around metropolitan areas may be able to significantly improve the situation, according to ATRI.
Florida, Texas, and California were the top three states by total cost of congestion, unchanged from 2014. Much of the top 10 remained the same, except for Ohio and Tennessee, which joined the top 10 for the first time. Ohio made the most significant leap to make the list, jumping from 21st to 8th. The state saw a total cost increase of $1.5 billion in a year, which ATRI said was likely attributed to over 80 roadway construction projects that took place in 2015.
The ATRI report focused on the operational costs to trucking caused by congestion, but in a media call about the findings, the group emphasized the burden it placed on the entire U.S. economy. The increased costs to trucking trickle down to other parts of the supply chain, eventually hitting consumers in the wallet.
“This is not the trucking industry’s cost alone to bear,” said Brewster. “It really starts to play itself out through the cost of goods on those trucks.”
To access the full ATRI report, click here.