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ATRI: Driver Shortage Pushing Industry Costs Higher

After falling slightly in 2012, operating costs for trucking companies are on the rise again according to a new study by the American Transportation Research Institute.

The the average cost per mile rose from US$1.65 to US$1.68 in 2013 mostly due to the driver shortage and wage increases to ensure retention of qualified drivers and entice new drivers to fill seats, reports Heavy Duty Trucking.

“Carriers have experienced significant increases in equipment and labour costs,” said Andrew Boyle, an ATRI Research Advisory Committee member.

According to the updated ATRI report, Operational Costs of Trucking, a decline in fuel prices drove down industry costs between 2008 and 2009, and again in 2012, but as they did between 2010-2011, costs are back on the upswing.

Fuel consistently represents the largest share of total average marginal cost for motor carriers, followed by driver wages and equipment lease or purchase payments, says ATRI.

The report details average costs per mile as well as costs per hour and cost breakouts by industry sector in the US.

There were three new questions added to this year’s survey to assess emerging issues:

  • Motor carrier use of electronic logging devices (ELD) to log driver hours-of-service. The response was split almost evenly with 53% of respondents reporting some ELD use. It is assumed that this figure will increase rapidly as the industry responds to the upcoming Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ELD  mandate expected in 2016.
  • Equipment trade cycles, or the frequency of vehicle turnover. Trailers are held an average of 12.2 years, while truck-tractors are replaced on average every 6.6 years. Additionally, respondents report an average of over 795,000 miles before replacing tractors.
  • Primary commodities hauled. General freight accounted for one-quarter of responses, followed by refrigerated food (19%) and manufactured goods (9%) as the top three responses.

For more information on the ATRI report, click here.

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