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ATRI releases analysis of trucking costs

Key expenses such as truck payments, driver wages and insurance premiums saw significant hikes.

Trucks Lined Up
Renee Gaudet | Pixabay

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today released its 2024 Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking. This annual report provides essential benchmarking data for motor carriers and a comprehensive overview of the financial state of the trucking industry, aiding decision-makers in both industry and government.

In 2023, the overall marginal cost of operating a truck reached $2.270 per mile, a modest 0.8 percent increase from the previous year. Excluding surcharge-protected fuel costs, the marginal costs rose 6.6 percent to $1.716 per mile.

Key expense increases included:

  • Truck and trailer payments: up 8.8% to $0.360/mile
  • Driver wages: up 7.6% to $0.779/mile
  • Repair and maintenance: up 3.1% to $0.202/mile
  • Truck insurance premiums: up 12.5% to $0.099/mile

The 2023 freight market was soft, leading to challenges in operational efficiency. Deadhead mileage rose to an average of 16.3 percent for non-tank operations, and driver turnover in the truckload sector increased by five percentage points. Low freight rates further strained profitability, with average operating margins at 6 percent or lower across most fleet sizes and sectors, except for less-than-truckload (LTL).

The report also analyzes cost trends for 2024 and beyond, including Q1 2024 cost changes reported by carriers.

β€œThe current economic environment makes cost management essential to successful operations,” said Gregg Troian, President of PGT Trucking. β€œATRI’s Operational Costs report provides the targeted costs and operational benchmarks necessary to identify opportunities for reducing expenses and how to best act on those opportunities in our fleet.”

The full report is available on ATRI’s website. Participating carriers receive a customized report comparing their operations to an anonymized peer group of the same sector and size.

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