Eric Van Egeren | FleetOwner
65770df711151f001d171843 Screenshot 20231211 082521

Trucking By the Numbers 2023

Dec. 11, 2023
A look back at the data and figures that shaped the trucking industry in 2023. These infographics tell a story of where the industry was, where it is, and where it's going.

Rising costs and less freight created more industry challenges in 2023. But trucks are still far and away the No. 1 way America moves its goods: Over-the-road fleets haul 72.6%—nearly 12 billion tons—of all U.S. freight. This $940.8 billion industry accounts for more than 80% of the nation's freight bill.

These are among the many data points gathered for FleetOwner's annual Trucking by the Numbers infographics feature. While many of the industry's stats are lagging, these charts, graphs, and illustrations tell a visual story about where our industry was, where it is, and where it's going. 

The trucking operation costs jumped 21.3% from 2021 to 2022 to $2.251 per mile, setting a new record, according to the American Transportation Research Institute's latest data. Those rising costs were a focus in 2023 as both spot and contract freight rates fell from their early 2023 peaks, according to DAT Analytics

After reaching a 40-year inflation high of 9% in June 2022, the Consumer Price Index has continued to decrease throughout 2023. It was down to 3.2% this October compared to 12 months earlier. The inflation rate decreased in October, partly due to a drop in energy prices. The energy index fell 4.5% after rising 2.3% in September. 

Outside of California, on-highway diesel costs in 2023 receded from 2022's record pump prices. In California, fleets increased zero- and low-emission fuel adoptions, according to the 2023 State of Sustainable Fleets report. With clean fleet regulation timelines shortening and several other states looking to follow the Golden State's lead, more alternative fuel commercial vehicles were on the road than ever. 

With less freight, American Trucking Associations' driver shortage estimates fell slightly in 2023 from the 81,000 peak in 2021. However, the association still estimates trucking needs to hire 1.1 million drivers over the next 10 years to replace a retiring workforce. The average over-the-road commercial driver was 46 years old this year. Still, the industry is attracting more women and people of color after annual driver salaries rose by nearly 11% in 2021. 

The industry is going to need those new drivers soon. After the pandemic-fueled supply chain problems, nearshoring is picking up steam in North America. Mexico recently surpassed China as the U.S.'s largest trading partner. 

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello is "bullish" on North American manufacturing. "This idea of nearshoring or reshoring—whatever you want to call it—is real. It is happening. It doesn't happen overnight, but we know it is, in fact, happening," he said in October.

Click on the below graphics to enlarge to them. 

Trucking By the Numbers: Overview

Trucking By the Numbers: Economics

Trucking By the Numbers: Diesel fuel prices

Trucking By the Numbers: Drivers

Trucking by the Numbers: Drugs & Alcohol 

Trucking By the Numbers: Alt fuels and opportunities

About the Author

Josh Fisher | Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher has been with FleetOwner since 2017, covering everything from modern fleet management to operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, autonomous trucking, regulations, and emerging transportation technology. He is based in Maryland. 

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