James F. Mahoney, Attorney
Commentaries
 
     

October 2017

The Cost of Driving One Truck One Mile

The American Transportation Research Institute just released findings of its 2017 update to the operational cost of Trucking, aptly called, "An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking." Here are some interesting excerpts.

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The analysis found that the average CPM was $1.592 for 2016, up one percent from the costs of $1.575 found in 2015. The total marginal costs for TL was $1.42; for LTL, it was $1.74; and Specialized was $1.83.

As we know, the trucking industry hauls most of freight in the United States, accounting for 66 percent of the nation’s freight tonnage and 73 percent of freight value. A typical truck-tractor in the ATRI sample was reported to have driven 103,945 miles per year, compared to just 25,511 miles for straight trucks.

Respondents reported holding equipment for more miles, but slightly fewer years compared to the previous year’s analysis. This indicates that trucks are being used more intensively each year and are likely wearing out in less time than before

Though new truck models are becoming more fuel efficient, indications of an increase in fuel economy have lagged. For example, the overall fuel economy of the respondent sample held steady at an average of 6.3 MPG

Fuel costs have consistently been the biggest MC line-item expense across most of the years ATRI has conducted this research, and generally account for approximately 30 to 40 percent of a motor carrier’s CPM.24 However, due to the continual steady decline of fuel prices in 2015 and early 2016, fuel’s share of a carrier’s MC was lower than historically experienced and was in fact surpassed by driver wages for the second consecutive year.

Many industry shifts have continued to exert upward pressure on driver pay. In fact, in 2016 both driver wages and benefits grew for the fourth consecutive year, and are now ranked as the biggest cost center for motor carriers in ATRI’s sample for the second consecutive year. Chief among these shifts has been the much-discussed shortage of qualified drivers, a shortage that continued to plague the industry in 2016. Truck insurance costs increased to 7.5 cents per mile.

Most truckload drivers are paid on a per-mile basis while LTL P&D drivers are generally paid by the hour. Survey respondents indicated that average truck driver pay per mile was 52.3 cents in 2016, marking four years of continuous increases. In terms of hourly wages, the 2016 CPM figure translated to $20.91.