Better things to do with our money than ‘spend’ it on traffic delays

June 12, 2017
I’ve talked about how traffic congestion decreases the efficiency of the trucking industry before.

I’ve talked about how traffic congestion decreases the efficiency of the trucking industry before. But I want to do so again because the American Transportation Research Institute recently came out with the 2017 Update to its Cost of Congestion to the Trucking Industry report.

As the name implies, the report puts a dollar figure on the cost of congestion. And the number is big. $63.4 billion in additional operational costs to fleets. ATRI says in 2015 the trucking industry experienced more than 996 million hours of delays caused by congestion. “This delay is the equivalent of 362,243 commercial truck drivers sitting idle for an entire working year,” the report says.

Stop for a minute and imagine that.

Breaking down the cost of congestion to the fleet level, congestion costs fleets $5,664 on average per truck per year.

I can’t help but think of how many other things fleets could do with more than $5,000 a year per truck. Sure they could just let it drop to the bottom line, but I am thinking more along the lines of the types of fuel efficiency technology improvements they could be investing in with that money.

We’ve identified a whole host of solutions — and you can find them at truckingefficiency.org — that can help fleets get the most out of a gallon of diesel fuel. Some save lots of fuel, some only a little, but we are believers in the every little bit helps philosophy.

We’ve even put together confidence ratings on these technologies to help fleets determine if now is a good time to wholesale invest in a technology, just dip their toe in trying the technology on a few trucks, or wait until the technology evolves before laying out cash for it.

I hope at some point in the not to distant future we will address our infrastructure issues and start coming up with solutions that will not only improve roads but also help mitigate the traffic congestion that is sucking money out of the industry.

In the meantime, I think it is important for fleets to continue to invest in fuel saving technologies and practices that will do something to offset the hit they are taking from just sitting in traffic.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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