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.