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Trucking by the Numbers 2015

Aug. 10, 2015
By any count, it’s a diverse, complex industry.

Our third annual “By the Numbers” report collects 14 pages of graphs, charts and other data that taken collectively offer a broad picture of the trucking industry’s importance and central role in America. Rather than present the data as part of a focused research project or targeted analysis, our goal is to let the numbers speak for themselves, illustrating through variety and breadth just how deeply trucking impacts our economy, our personal livelihoods, our environment and even our society.

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

Basic Numbers 2015







Roadside Inspections

These days data is ubiquitous. Pick any topic, and you will quickly be overwhelmed with reports, charts, databases and every other format imaginable for communicating numbers-based information. 

But a simple data dump doesn’t really tell a story, or deliver any insights.  So we’ve combed through a range of sources that at times seemed almost limitless to pick and choose only the information that was most pertinent to a basic understanding of trucking, most revealing in shining a light on important issues, most impressive in sheer scope, or even most intriguing in an entertaining way.  Some cover historical trends; others offer forecasts and some of the most recent data available. But all share a common trait—they help advance a better understanding of the truck industry.

Numbers alone, even carefully chosen ones, aren’t enough. So we designed graphics that put the numbers in a readily comprehensive format and juxtaposed them to better spark insights. Finally, we organized them into broad categories—basic numbers, economics, employment, drivers, equipment, fuel, safety, and roadside inspections—to make it a bit easier to navigate.

While it involved a good deal of digging to uncover the data presented, it all came from publicly available sources.  Though it’s often buried deep within government vaults (figuratively that is, since most is stored in electronic files accessible through Internet portals) and hidden behind bureaucratic jargon, the federal government was a major source for this project.  The Depts. of Transportation, Labor, Commerce and Energy and their various agencies, administrations and bureaus provide reliable and thorough data on almost any imaginable topic touching trucking.

Finding it among all the dross was another matter.  American Trucking Trends 2015, the most recent annual roundup of industry analysis from the American Trucking Assns. was another valuable resource.  For equipment data, Wards­Auto.com provided what is considered the gold standard in truck sales and production numbers, and Equipment Watch Intelligence offered a new source on used-truck market information.  Other important sources included GE Capital’s Fleet Market Economic Outlook Survey, TMW Systems’  2014 Transportation and Logistics Study, the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts 2015, and the 26th Annual State of Logistics Report from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. And Athena/Vigillo shared current roadside inspection numbers from its database.

Credit is also due to the editorial team that converted all this raw data into these 14 pages of informative and accessible graphics: Yodit Walker, Elsa Pecoroni and Brian Straight.

— Jim Mele

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