Traffic congestion slammed trucking with nearly $74.5 billion in operational costs in 2016, a 0.5% increase over 2015, according to research released on Oct. 18 by the American Transportation Research Institute. 

ATRI said the report, its latest Cost of Congestion analysis, calculated that delays for operating only on the U.S. National Highway System amounted nearly 1.2 billion hours of lost productivity— or exactly 425,533 truck drivers “sitting idle for a working year.”

Moreover, the report found that the cost of congestion is “increasingly concentrated on a relatively small proportion of the NHS” as 86.7% of total nationwide congestion costs occurred on just 17.2% of NHS segment miles. 

Per ATRI, these NHS segments are characterized as having above-average costs in excess of $155,000 per mile during 2016, and are predominantly located in densely populated urban areas.  As expected, traffic congestion tended to be most severe in urban areas, with more than 91% of the total congestion costs generating from metropolitan areas.

The analysis also documented the states, metropolitan areas, and counties that were most impacted by the delays and subsequent cost increases.  ATRI said the top 10 states experienced costs of more than $2.4 billion each, led by Texas and Florida with over $5.5 billion each. The top 10 states combined account for 51.8% of the congestion costs nationwide. 

"Perhaps no other issue has as great an impact on this nation's supply chain as traffic congestion,” Benjamin J. McLean, CEO of Ruan Transportation Management Systems, said in a release issued by ATRI. “In the face of growing and pervasive congestion, not only does the trucking industry lose billions annually but ultimately the consumer pays the price through higher prices on the shelf. Doing nothing to address the state of our nation's infrastructure will create a significant impediment to the growth of our economy."   

ATRI noted that it has updated its congestion cost database with 2016 data to provide granular cost information to transportation planning officials on the hours of delay and associated cost by major jurisdiction type and road level.

The full report may be downloaded here.

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