Equipment, driver pay push operating costs higher, ATRI analysis says

Falling fuel prices weren’t enough to offset more expensive equipment and driver pay increases, so the cost of trucking rose again last year, according to latest benchmarking report from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).

Released Tuesday, the 2015 update to An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking puts the average marginal cost per mile in 2014 at $1.703, about 3 cents higher than 2013. And the upward trend is expected to continue.

“Due to an economic-based freight demand increase, and growing repair and maintenance costs, carriers are moving quickly to replace older equipment,” the ATRI report says. “In turn, the additional insurance costs associated with those purchases, along with increasing driver pay to recruit and retain their drivers, it is likely that the trucking industry will continue to see overall operating costs rise in spite of projected fuel price decreases.”

Using financial data provided directly by motor carriers throughout the country, the research documents and analyzes trucking costs from 2008 through 2014 “providing motor carriers with a high level benchmarking tool,” ATRI says.

ATRI’s dataset is comprised primarily of small to mid-sized fleets, the report notes. This year’s survey respondents accounted for approximately 55,000 trucks, 155,000 trailers, and over 5.3 billion vehicle miles traveled in 2014.

“ATRI’s release of its annual Operational Costs of Trucking research is among our association members most eagerly anticipated,” said Brenda Neville, President and CEO of the Iowa Motor Truck Association and a member of ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee. “They understand and appreciate the value of ATRI’s operational cost analysis to their own fleet benchmarking and as such, are always willing participants when ATRI issues its call for cost data.”

The slides above represent a sampling of the research and analysis. A copy of the complete report is available from ATRI by clicking here.

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