Operating a trucking company got more expensive in 2021, according to a new study released earlier this week.
The American Transportation Research Institute's annual Operational Costs of Trucking report found the cost of trucking increased 12.7% last year to $1.855 per mile, the highest level in the 15-year history of the research. On a per-hour basis, costs increased to $74.65, also a new high.
The leading items contributing to the increase were:
- fuel, which was 35.4% higher than in 2020 at 41.7 cents per mile
- repair and maintenance, at 18.2% higher than in 2020, the second-fastest growing cost
- driver wages and benefits, which were 10.8% higher than in 2020 at 80.9 cents per mile
Overall, fleets with 100 or fewer trucks spent 4.9 cents more per mile than fleets with more than 100 trucks, closing the 2020 gap with larger fleets by 70 percent, according to ATRI. While larger fleets spent less than smaller fleets on insurance premiums per mile, the advantage was offset by higher out-of-pocket incident costs per mile for large fleets.
Despite the increased costs, the ATRI report said, "The financial health of trucking remained strong throughout 2021 ..."
The report also found carriers emphasized greater efficiency in 2021. Deadhead mileage decreased to 14.8 percent, and average truck fuel economy increased to 6.65 miles per gallon.
New to ATRI's report this year was a look at truck parking compensation.
The report found 40% of truckload carriers offer driver reimbursements for truck parking, and an additional 14% compensate for truck parking in advance through reservations, pre-paid cards, etc. Forty-six percent of truckload carriers do not compensate drivers for truck parking expenses.
The report says 21% of specialized carrier respondents offer driver reimbursements for truck parking, while an additional 8% compensate for truck parking in advance through reservations, pre-paid cards, etc. That means 71% of specialized carriers do not compensate drivers for truck parking expenses.
ATRI concluded, "As truck parking demand increases, covering truck parking reservation fees is one potentially effective strategy for addressing driver shortage and retention issues."