Increasing Driver Wages and Benefits Outpaced Lower Fuel Costs in 2016

Contact: Dan Murray
(612) 210-6950
October 18, 2017


Arlington, VA – The American Transportation Research Institute today released the findings of its 2017 update to An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking. Using financial data provided directly by motor carriers throughout the country, this research documents and analyzes trucking costs from 2008 through 2016 – providing trucking industry stakeholders with a high-level benchmarking tool, and government agencies with a baseline for future transportation infrastructure improvement analyses.

The average marginal cost per mile in 2016 was $1.59. Key line items that impacted this year’s costs include declines in fuel costs of 17 percent from 2015 costs while at the same time driver wages and benefits increased by 5 percent and 18 percent, respectively, over last year’s figures. And, as a result, for the second year in a row since ATRI started collecting the industry’s operational costs data, driver costs now represent a higher percentage of overall costs than does fuel. A clear underpinning of the 2016 data was the soft economy last year, and the myriad implications that has on insurance, capacity, and pricing. In addition, the sophistication of 21st Century trucks is driving up equipment costs for both purchasing and repair and maintenance.

“We eagerly await the release of ATRI’s Operational Costs research each year as an important barometer of our fleet performance versus our peers in the industry,” said Bart Middleton, Grammer Industries CEO.

New to this year’s report are findings on safety and performance bonus and incentive amounts that carriers are paying to attract and retain the best drivers.

Since its original publication in 2008, ATRI has received over 13,500 requests for the Operational Costs reports.

You can download this report here.

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ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization. It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.