Transportation Institute quantifies ballooning costs of traffic congestion

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

A new American Transportation Research Institute study shows traffic congestion adding $94.6 billion in 2021 to trucking industry costs. The latest Cost of Congestion study utilizes ATRI’s unique truck GPS database to calculate trucking delay impacts from 2017 through 2021 on major U.S. roadways. While year-over-year decreased in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, congestion costs rose sharply the following year, pushing lost productivity attributable to traffic tie ups toward 1.3 billion hours—equating to more than 460,000 commercial vehicle drivers sitting idle for one year. ATRI’s analysis also found that the trucking industry wasted over 6.7 billion gallons, or $22 billion-plus, of diesel in 2021 due to congestion.

The study is posted here.

In addition to the national findings, ATRI’s analysis also documented state and metropolitan delays and related cost impacts. The top 10 states each experienced costs of more than $3 billion, led by California ($9.00B), Texas ($7.26B) and Florida ($7.16B). Combined, the 10 states ultimately account for more than half of trucking’s congestion costs nationwide.

Additionally, the New York City metropolitan area ranked highest for cities, with costs approaching $5.5 billion annually. The Cost of Congestion study also documents transportation investment by states through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which could provide as much as $350 billion in funding to address congestion.

“Over the last several years, our industry has experienced some of the most dramatic increases in operating costs, including fuel, labor and equipment,” says Boyle Transportation Vice President of EHS and Quality Michael Lasko. “Imagine how those costs are magnified by sitting still in traffic. 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. Hopefully we can leverage the new infrastructure spending to get our supply chains moving again.”