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Congested Traffic Costs Trucking $94.6 Billion in 2021

According to a new Cost of Congestion study published by the American Transportation Research Institute, U.S. highways added $94.6 billion in costs to the trucking industry in 2021, up from $74.5 billion in 2016.

“While year-over-year congestion costs decreased in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they rose sharply in 2021 with a total of 1.27 billion hours of lost productivity,” the study reported. 

“This increase in costs reflects the dramatic post-COVID economic recovery, with high GDP growth and freight demand borne from record levels of consumer spending.

“This level of delay equates to more than 460,000 commercial truck drivers sitting idle for one work year, and the 2021 figure represents a 27% increase from the report’s baseline year of 2016 — an increase that is twice the rate of inflation.”

ATRI said that congestion costs were caused by high GDP growth, consumer spending, a jump in diesel prices, commuter traffic and trucking rate and volume increases.

Research analysis also found that the trucking industry wasted more than 6.7 billion gallons of diesel fuel in 2021 due to congestion, resulting in more than $22.3 billion in additional fuel expenses. 

Which is approximately 69 million metric tons of excess carbon dioxide released in 2021.

The top 10 states each experienced costs of more than $3 billion, led by California ($9 billion), Texas ($7.26 billion) and Florida ($7.16 billion). Combined, these 10 states ultimately account for more than half (53%) of trucking’s congestion costs nationwide. 

The New York City metropolitan area ranked highest for cities, with costs approaching $5.5 billion annually, according to the study.

“Over the last several years, our industry has experienced some of the most dramatic increases in operating costs, including fuel, labor and equipment,” said Michael Lasko, vice president of EHS and Quality at Boyle Transportation

“Imagine how those costs are magnified by sitting still in traffic. We all should keep in mind that those costs are passed down directly to consumers resulting in higher prices for goods and services throughout the economy. Hopefully we can leverage the new infrastructure spending to get our supply chains moving again.”

The research institute also said the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has provided approximately $1.2 trillion in infrastructure investments from 2022 through 2026.

“This infrastructure funding is critical to addressing the congestion costs documented in this report,” ATRI said.

“According to a White House report, ‘one-in-five miles of our roadways and more than 45,000 bridges in the United States [are] rated as ‘in poor condition.’ Along with congestion issues, this type of infrastructure deficiency often creates safety hazards, road-related vehicle damage and repair costs, and road and bridge restrictions that negatively impact the supply chain.”

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