The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) published the first iteration of An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking in 2008 with the goal of providing accurate marginal cost data for the trucking industry. In conjunction with industry experts, ATRI developed a comprehensive methodology to calculate key cost centers in the trucking industry. ATRI has continued to publish an annual update, streamlining methodologies, and promulgating the marginal costs of trucking on a yearly basis.
This year’s report, based on marginal cost data from 2020, analyzes cost metrics by fleet size, sector, and region of operation to a greater degree than ever before. Though the Covid-19 pandemic made 2020 a historically unprecedented year in economic terms, ATRI’s Operational Costs report (Ops Costs) documents consistent trends in many cost centers and provides interpretations for volatility in others. As such, this research continues to serve as a high-level benchmarking tool for motor carriers, and data-driven resource for freight planning.
In addition to faster truck speeds, Covid-19 impacts were considerable: dead-head miles increased to 20.6 percent, annual operating miles decreased to 89,358 miles per truck, and fuel costs declined by nearly 20 percent to 30.8 cents per mile. Independent of Covid-19 impacts, insurance costs continued their climb, rising more than 18 percent to 8.7 cents per mile, the highest in the Ops Costs report history.
While truck driver wages increased from 2019 to 2020, benefits costs per mile decreased. Overall truck driver compensation was 73.7 cents per mile. Separately, safety and retention bonuses increased by 10.5 percent and 14.2 percent respectively, but starting bonuses dropped by 10 percent – reflecting the soft driver marketplace in early 2020 for many sectors.
Overall, the average marginal cost per mile incurred by motor carriers in 2020 decreased 5 cents per mile to $1.64. When the per-mile costs are converted to hourly costs, the report found that total hourly costs dropped slightly to $66.87.
For access to ARTI’s Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking, please click here.