Congestion costs rose to a record high of nearly $7,000 per truck in 2021, the American Transportation Research Institute reported Wednesday.
Traffic had a $94.6 billion financial drag on the industry in the year, a more than $20 billion increase since 2016, according to ATRI’s Cost of Congestion to the Trucking Industry report.
Congestion costs rise to record level
It meant drivers spent roughly 1.27 billion hours waiting — the equivalent of 460,000 truck drivers sitting idle for one year, the group reported.
"Over the last several years, our industry has experienced some of the most dramatic increases in operating costs, including fuel, labor and equipment,” Michael Lasko, VP of EHS and quality at Boyle Transportation, said in a statement. “Imagine how those costs are magnified by sitting still in traffic.”
All that idling took an environmental toll, too: ATRI estimated trucks emitted about 69 million excess metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2021, contributing to the more than 400 million emitted by medium- and heavy-duty trucks each year.
ATRI’s findings won’t surprise an industry already spending record amounts on operations in the past few years. But they highlighted four problem states responsible for almost a third of the congestion and underscored how more commuters returning to in-office work are slowing down shipments.
Worst states for congestion
|Issue||2021 rank||2016 rank|
|4. New York||4||4|
|7. New Jersey||7||5|
About 30% of the nation’s congestion costs reside in the states with the highest populations: California ($9 billion), Texas ($7.3 billion), Florida ($7.2 billion) and New York ($4.9 billion).
The broader New York City Metropolitan Area alone was responsible for nearly $5.5 billion in congestion costs.
California has seen the largest total congestion cost increase, a nearly $4 billion jump from 2016 to 2021, according to ATRI.
The largest congestion cost increases by percentage were found in Nevada (117.2%), Louisiana (83.3%), Georgia (81.3%) and California (77.9%), which ATRI attributed in large part to growth in freight-related sectors.
“We all should keep in mind that those costs are passed down directly to consumers resulting in higher prices for goods and services throughout the economy,” Lasko said. “Hopefully we can leverage the new infrastructure spending to get our supply chains moving again.”