Traffic congestion cost trucking industry $94.6 billion in 2021

Updated Oct 31, 2023
Part of the cover of TRI study
American Transportation Research Institute

The cost to the trucking industry of highway congestion has reached a new high.

Traffic congestion on U.S. highways added $94.6 billion in costs to the trucking industry in 2021, according to the latest Cost of Congestion study released today by the American Transportation Research Institute. This is the highest level yet recorded by the study, according to a statement from ATRI.

Additionally, the 2021 national congestion figure of 1.27 billion hours of delay is the equivalent of more than 460,000 truck drivers sitting idle for one year. On average, annual congestion costs per truck were $6,824.

ATRI's study found the annual cost of congestion was up from $74.5 billion in 2016. This $20.1 billion increase in trucking industry congestion costs equates to a 27.0 percent increase. This percentage increase is more than twice that of inflation during the same time period.

The report estimates that in 2021 6.793 billion additional gallons of diesel were wasted due to congestion, costing the industry more than $22.3 billion.

The CO2 production associated with additional fuel use is substantial at 69 million metric tons.

While costs increased in all regions of the county, the congestion cost increases by percentage were highest in the West (45.0%) and the Southeast (32.3%). 

The top states and their congestion costs include:

  1. California, $9,000,397,702
  2. Texas, $7, 256, 430,452
  3. Florida, $7,157,229,169
  4. New York, $4,917,126,628
  5. Louisiana, $4,217,050,404
  6. Georgia, $4,021,578,225
  7. New Jersey, $3,838,944,444
  8. Illinois, $3,379,889,793
  9. Pennsylvania, $3,268,381,038
  10.  Tennessee, $3,154,354,178

The top metropolitan areas and their congestion costs include:

  1. New York City Metro, $5,491,372,273
  2. Miami Metro, $2,618,229,310
  3. Chicago Metro, $2,570,539,181
  4. Philadelphia Metro, $2,101,897,497
  5. Los Angeles Metro, $1,804,864,142
  6. Dallas Metro, $1,795,595,925
  7. Houston metro, $1,633,751,272
  8. Washington, D.C., $1,613,805,707
  9. Nashville Metro, $1440,765,701
  10. Atlanta Metro, $1,393,415,723

ATRI said it used a variety of data sources including its unique truck GPS database to calculate trucking delay impacts from 2017 through 2021 on major U.S. roadways.  

"Over the last several years, our industry has experienced some of the most dramatic increases in operating costs, including fuel, labor and equipment,” said Michael Lasko, Vice President of EHS and Quality at Boyle Transportation.  “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.”

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A copy of this report is available on ATRI’s website here.

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