Refrigeratedtransporter 4628 Atri Op Costs 2019 Cover Front Cropped Main

ATRI: New research shows increases in trucking costs

Nov. 11, 2019
The average marginal cost per mile incurred by motor carriers in 2018 increased by 7.7% to $1.82, ATRI said.

The average marginal cost per mile incurred by motor carriers in 2018 increased by 7.7% to $1.82, according to recently released findings in the 2019 update of the American Transportation Research Institute’s “An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking.”

Using detailed financial data provided directly by carriers of all sectors and fleet sizes, this “Ops Costs” research annually documents and analyzes trucking costs from 2008 through 2018. ATRI’s analysis provides industry stakeholders with a benchmarking tool, and government agencies with input on industry finances necessary for transportation planning and infrastructure improvement analyses, the institute said.

ATRI’s newest 2019 Ops Costs report documents the extremely robust economic environment that carriers and drivers experienced in 2018, but these same economic conditions put considerable upward pressure on nearly every line-item cost center experienced by carriers.

Costs rose in every cost center except tires, with fuel costs experiencing the highest year-over-year growth of 17.7%. Not surprisingly, insurance costs saw the second fastest year-over-year growth at 12%. As a strategic response to the severe driver shortage that existed in 2018, driver wages and benefits increased 7.0% and 4.7%, respectively, representing 43% of all marginal costs in 2018, ATRI said.

Repair and maintenance (R&M) costs, at 17.1 cents per mile in 2018, are up 24% since 2012—a counterintuitive increase given the record sales of new trucks and trailers. From 2012 to 2018, overall motor carrier operational costs have increased more than 11.6%, exceeding the 10.8% inflation rate for that same time period.

ATRI’s 2019 report again includes an “Industry Sector in Focus” analysis for tank fleet operators.

“ATRI’s 2019 Operational Costs research highlights the extent of the cost increases our industry experienced in 2018,” said Jerry Sigmon, executive vice president of Cargo Transporters. “Savvy carriers will continue to use this cost data as a benchmarking tool, and to better educate our customers on the financial and operating pressures our industry faces.

“The new 2019 report also gives us important explanations and hints on how to better manage the cost volatility we’ve been experiencing.”

Since its original publication in 2008, ATRI has received more than 16,000 requests for the Operational Costs reports. A copy is available at

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