Highway traffic congestion cost the trucking industry an additional $94.6 billion in 2021, marking the highest level ever recorded by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) in its latest report.
Traffic and delays sacrificed 1.27 billion hours in productivity in the US, with average congestion costs calculated at almost $7,000 per truck. (All figures in USD.) More than 6.7 billion US gallons (25.4 billion liters) of diesel were wasted, worth more than $22 billion.
The 2021 congestion numbers and costs represent a 27% increase from the report’s baseline year of 2016 – twice the rate of inflation. “This level of delay equates to more than 460,000 commercial truck drivers sitting idle for one work year,” ATRI says.
Even though congestion-related costs decreased in 2020 due to the pandemic, they rose sharply the next year. This can be explained by several factors, including GDP growth that reached 5.7% in 2021, the highest growth rate since 1984, the institute says.
Recovery from the pandemic played a role, too. Consumer spending returned, driving up prices and leading to inflation. Lifting work-from-home requirements caused increased commuter traffic. Diesel prices also increased, just like trucking rates and volumes.
ATRI concluded that California was the state with the highest congestion costs, seeing an 80% increase since 2016. It is followed by Texas, which had the highest costs six years ago.
“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, in a press release.
“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.”
Access the full report here: