Freight group measures spikes in trucking equipment, wage costs

Source: American Transportation Research Institute, Washington, D.C. 

A 2023 update to the American Transportation Research Institute’s Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking finds for-hire motor carriers’ marginal costs climbed to a new high in 2022 for the second year in a row, up 21.3 percent over 2021. Though fuel was the largest factor in the spike, as diesel prices averaged more than 50 percent higher year over year, multiple other line-items also rose by double digits, led by driver wages, up 15.5 percent. A record number of fleets participated in this year’s ATRI survey, which gauges a variety of line-item costs, operating efficiencies, and revenue benchmarks by fleet size and sector. The 2023 report represents 2022 data encompassing nearly 170,000 truck-tractors and 500,000 trailers logging 13 billion-plus vehicle miles traveled.

Copies of the ATRI report are posted here.

Atypical market conditions posed unique challenges for acquiring and maintaining equipment in 2022. Truck and trailer payments increased by 18.6 percent to $0.331 per mile as fleet operators paid higher prices, largely due to equipment impediments in the supply chains. Closely related, parts shortages and rising technician labor rates pushed repair and maintenance costs up 12 percent to $0.196 per mile. In response to rising costs, motor carriers initiated improvements in key operational efficiencies. ATRI finds that driver turnover and equipment utilization, for example, each improved across nearly every fleet size and sector during 2022. This year’s report includes new metrics such as mileage between breakdowns and the ratio of truck drivers to non-driving employees. Despite falling rates throughout the year, average operating margins were at least six percent in all sectors. While larger fleets’ average operating margins improved from 2021 to 2022, smaller fleets saw operating margins decline.