Rising wages for drivers, and the increasing price of insurance, diesel fuel, maintenance costs and other factors, pushed up the cost of operating a truck by 21.3% in 2022, compared to the year before, according to the annual American Transportation Research Institute report, “An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking.”
The price of operating a truck rose to US$2.251 per mile — the highest level on record — according to the study released June 21.
Rising cost of fuel was the largest driver of the increase in 2022 and 53.7% higher than in 2021. Other line items also increased by double digits. Driver wages jumped 15.5% to 72.4 cents per mile, reflecting the industry effort to attract and retain drivers. Hundreds of companies raised driver pay, sometimes multiple times during the year to remain competitive.
ATRI Senior Vice President Dan Murray said the rising operational costs in 2022 were a perfect storm as the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact remained and other international factors contributed to the report’s conclusions.
“This was clearly a gargantuan leap. 2021 was expensive, but the 2022 data exceeded anything we would have guessed if we speculated with world inflation at 6-, 7-, 8-plus percent,” he said. “There was just not one thing you could put your finger on a cause. You wouldn’t have enough fingers.”
ATRI said the cost per hour of operating a truck in 2022 soared by 21.7% compared with 2021 and totaled $90.78 per hour, the highest in the Ops Cost history. The hourly price-per-hour figure increased at a slightly higher rate than the cost per mile because, ATRI said, average truck speed in 2022 increased marginally when measured against 2021.
“The trucking industry entered a weaker economy in 2022. GDP declined as inflation soared during the first two quarters of 2022, and trucking rates fell throughout the year,” ATRI wrote in the report. “Federal and industry sources reported rising costs in key areas. Fuel costs started spiking after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Truck purchase prices remained high even while availability improved, as did repair and maintenance costs. Though some costs like auto liability insurance premiums stabilized, others — like driver wages — continued to rise.”
ATRI said 2022’s atypical market conditions also were responsible for unique challenges for acquiring and maintaining equipment.
Truck and trailer payments increased 18.6% to 33.1 cents per mile as carriers paid higher prices, largely due to equipment impediments in the supply chains. Closely related, parts shortages and rising technician labor rates pushed repair and maintenance costs up 12% to 19.6 cents per mile.
“In a softening market with costs rising at an unparalleled pace, carrier benchmarking becomes more critical than ever,” NFI Integrated Logistics President Dave Broering told Transport Topics. “ATRI’s newest operational costs report provides the reliable data and analysis we need to better understand our partners’ underlying costs in a volatile economy and decelerating rate marketplace.”
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