​ATRI Releases 2021 Operational Costs of Trucking Report

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) on Nov. 23 released its 2021 update to An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking.

The report uses 2020 financial data from motor carriers of all sectors and fleet sizes to highlight the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on trucking.

Faster speeds due to less traffic during the pandemic affected several cost categories.

Other impacts included a 21% increase in dead-head miles (i.e., trucks traveling empty after dropping off their loads); an average 89,358-mile decrease in annual operating miles; and a 20% decline in fuel costs.

Other trends unrelated to COVID-19 included a more than 18% increase in insurance costs — the highest in the history of ATRI’s operation costs report history.

Although 2019-20 truck driver wages rose — with overall truck driver compensation at 73.7 cents/mile — fringe benefits decreased.

Safety and retention bonuses rose by 10.5% and 14.2%, respectively, while starting bonuses fell by 10%.

ATRI speculates carriers may have prioritized safety and retention bonuses over starting bonuses because of the high turnover of drivers in 2020 and 2021.

The average marginal cost per mile for motor carriers in 2020 fell by 5 cents/mile to $1.64, while the total hourly per-mile costs dropped slightly to $66.87.

This article comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dec. 9, 2021, Grain Transportation Report.

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