CONGESTION: Interstate traffic jams cost truckers $9.2B extra in 2013

Delay totaled more than 141 million hours of lost productivity

Transportation Management News ATRI May 02, 2014
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Congestion on the nation’s interstate highways added more than $9.2 billion in operational costs to the trucking industry in 2013, according to research by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). ATRI utilized motor carrier financial data along with billions of anonymous truck GPS data points to calculate congestion delays and costs on each mile of interstate roadway. Delay totaled more than 141 million hours of lost productivity, which equated to more than 51,000 truck drivers sitting idle for a working year.


ATRI’s analysis also established the states, metropolitan areas and counties with the highest congestion costs. California led the nation with more than $1.7 billion in costs, followed by Texas with more than $1 billion. The Los Angeles metropolitan area saw the highest cost at nearly $1.1 billion and New York City was close behind at $984 million. Congestion tended to be most severe in urban areas, with 89% of the congestion costs concentrated on only 12% of the interstate mileage. This concentration of congestion has been well-documented in ATRI’s previous work, which identified the worst truck bottlenecks in the U.S. Of the 100 worst bottlenecks in ATRI’s 2013 bottleneck analysis, 98 were identified as having “severe” congestion in this cost-of-congestion analysis.


The analysis also demonstrates the average impact of congestion costs on a per-truck basis. For example, a truck driven for 12,000 miles in 2013 saw an average congestion cost of $408, while a truck driven for 150,000 miles had an average cost of $5,094.


“Congestion is an unfortunate byproduct of our just-in-time economy, and it’s a significant roadblock to our country’s productivity as well as its global competitiveness,” said Jack Holmes, president of UPS Freight, the heavy freight division of UPS. “ATRI’s analysis quantifies congestion in a way that clearly shows the urgent need for highway investment.”


A copy of the study results is available from ATRI at

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