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Trucking by the Numbers 2016

Putting the numbers behind the industry in context

In 2013, we undertook a one-off project to capture the size, diversity and economic importance of the trucking industry by presenting a broad collection of relevant data from as wide a variety of sources as we could identify.  That first “Trucking by the Numbers” was a project that took months of research, analysis and simple hard work, but it proved so popular that we quickly decided to make it an annual event.  “Trucking By the Numbers 2016” — our fourth installment—is our longest report yet, filling 17 pages with statistically based information drawn from an expanded pool of sources. 

Despite the amount of research involved, what follows is not intended to be the type of focused study produced by the industry’s many professional and academic analysts, nor does it offer the comprehensive databases collated by government agencies.  Once you start looking through those sources, you can quickly become overwhelmed by a flood of data arrayed in almost every format imaginable for presenting numbers-based information.  Trees, not the forest, become the dominate view, which is useful if you need to focus on a single subject but frustrating if you’re looking for a more complete picture.

To see the individual graphics, click on the following links for:

Trucking snapshot







Our goal is to paint a broader view of the landscape by picking and choosing from all that available data the information that fosters a basic understanding of trucking as an essential industry at the core of our economy.  As we dug through what at times seemed like a limitless universe of statistical sources, we used one simple but very effective yardstick: Would this piece give someone a better understanding of the trucking industry, its strengths, its problems, its future?

Using that same yardstick, we’ve created charts, graphs, databases and infographics that identify touchpoints in trucking’s historical performance, in its current operations, and in projections for its future. Some of the items complement one another, while others offer insights by offering juxtaposing perspectives. Recognizing that such a large mass of numbers-based items can seem unwieldly, we’ve also organized the information into general categories to make it easier to navigate.

While sources are provided for each individual item, we should also offer a general thanks to the many different groups and organizations that provided the raw material for this year’s report. The Depts. of Transportation, Labor, Commerce and Energy all maintain deep databases that touch on trucking in one way or another. And while that information is often buried deep within jargon-laced repositories, the various agencies within the departments have made great strides in allowing easier online access to the vast trove of public access. 

As in past years, provided what is the industry-accepted standard data on truck production and sales, and EquipmentWatch offered us expanded visibility into used-truck prices.

Other sources included DAT Solutions’ rate databases, TMW’s 2015 Transportation and Logistics Study, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional’s 2016 Annual State of Logistics Report, TRIP’s The Interstate Highway System Turns 60, Athena/Vigillo’s  CSA databases, market research from Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, and the American Transportation Research Institute.

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