November 4, 2019

Truck fleets saw operating costs jump 7.7% in 2018

Increase was driven by rising costs of fuel, insurance, driver wages, ATRI says.

By DC Velocity Staff

Even as the trucking industry weathers plunging freight rates and lingering driver shortages, the costs of operating a commercial vehicle continue to rise, a new study shows.

Carriers and drivers enjoyed an "extremely robust" economic environment in 2018, but those conditions also put "considerable upward pressure" on the line-item costs of trucking, according to the Arlington, Virginia-based trade group The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).

As a result, the average marginal cost per mile incurred by motor carriers in 2018 increased 7.7 percent to $1.82, ATRI said in the 2019 update to its "An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking" report.

That price hike follows a similar rise last year, when ATRI found that the average marginal cost per mile incurred by motor carriers in 2017 had increased six percent to $1.69. And from 2012 to 2018, overall motor carrier operational costs have increased more than 11.6%, exceeding the 10.8% inflation rate over that same time period.

The latest figures show that trucking costs in 2018 rose in every cost center except tires, led by fuel costs jumping 17.7% year-over-year and insurance costs rising 12%.

Driver wages and benefits increased 7.0% and 4.7%, respectively—growing to represent 43% of all marginal costs in 2018—as fleets sought for strategic responses to the severe driver shortage, ATRI said.

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