DOT releases latest Transportation Statistics Annual Report

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 4/16/2015

Roads, bridges, employment, fatalities, inspections – you name it and there is a stat for it. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics has released its Transportation Statistics Annual Report, and Land Line has extracted information pertinent to truckers.

The annual report covers statistics compiled by various government agencies through 2013. Not all categories are studied on an annual basis, so some numbers may be only as recent as 2011 or 2012. This year’s 2013 report is the most recent collection of data dealing with transportation.

Roads and bridges
In 2012, there were 4.1 million miles of public roads in the United States, little change from 2005. However, the amount of lane-miles increased by 2.8 percent. Interstate highways make up approximately 47,400 miles, only 1.2 percent of America’s roads. Despite the small percentage of roadways, interstates have the highest volumes of traffic.

As reported by the Federal Highway Administration, road and bridge conditions were determined by the International Roughness Index (IRI), which measures the smoothness of pavement. An IRI of 170 or higher is considered unsatisfactory. In 2011, 35.3 percent of urban roads and 13.9 percent of rural roads had an IRI of 170 or greater. IRI in all road categories improved in 2011 in terms of those with a rating of greater than 170, except for urban minor arterials and urban collector roads, with a 10.4 percent and 15.8 percent increase, respectively, in roads with unsatisfactory ratings.

According to the FHWA, 11 percent of bridges have been deemed structurally deficient, including 7.5 percent of urban bridges and 12.3 percent of rural bridges. Approximately 14 percent of bridges are considered functionally obsolete, including 24 percent of urban bridges and 10.4 percent of rural bridges. Structurally deficient is defined as “reduced load bearing capacity due to the deterioration of one or more bridge elements; not necessarily unsafe, but requires maintenance and eventual rehabilitation or replacement.” FHWA defines functionally obsolete as “structurally sound, high traffic volumes that exceed their design limits and may need to be widened or replaced.” Urban bridges carry 76.7 percent of all bridge traffic.

Around 254 million motor vehicles were accounted for in 2012, up 2.5 percent from 2005. Single-unit and combination truck registrations increased by 4.7 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively, between 2011 and 2012. Trucking establishments decreased by 7.6 percent from 2007 to 2012, with the recession from December 2007 to June 2009 being a major factor.

Alternative fuel vehicles made up less than 1 percent of all vehicles in 2012. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles accounted for 10.2 percent of alternative fuel vehicles. Flex fuels – a combination of gasoline or gasoline-ethanol blends – powered 72.4 percent of alternative fuel vehicles. There were 27,000 alternative fueling stations in 2011, compared with 6,000 in 2007.

Average age of passenger vehicles and light trucks in 2013 was set at 11.4 years, a steady increase from the 2001 average age of 8.9 years. Heavy-duty commercial truck fleets increased in age through 2010 but has since gradually declined from a peak age of 6.6 years. Historically, the long-term average for heavy-duty trucks has been 5.6 years.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the United States transportation capital stock was valued at $737 trillion in 2012. Publicly owned transportation accounted for over half of that value. Among private sectors, in-house transportation made up 16.6% of capital stock. In-house transportation is mostly highway related, e.g. fleets of trucks owned by grocery chains.

Nearly 20 billion tons of goods valued at $17.4 million were moved in 2012. Trucks moved more than 13 billion tons (67 percent) valued at more than $11 trillion (64 percent). Experts estimate that trucks will move nearly 19 billion tons (66 percent) valued at more than $21 trillion (55 percent) in 2040. Smaller percentages are due to expected increases in air freight and “multiple modes and mail.” Values of goods are expected to exceed tonnage.

In 2007, 55.7 percent of goods moved short distances, defined as less than 250 miles. However, shipments moved more than 250 miles carried 83.3 percent of ton-miles.

Top commodities of 2012 by weight included:

  • Gravel: 2.3 billion tons
  • Cereal grains: 1.6 billion tons
  • Coal: 1.5 billion tons

Top commodities by value were:

  • Machinery: nearly $2 trillion
  • Electronics: $1.5 trillion
  • Motorized vehicles: $1.3 trillion

In terms of employment, 3 percent of GDP, or $471.6 billion, was generated by for-hire transportation services in 2012. Trucking had the largest slice of the pie with 26.7 percent of the for-hire transport services revenue. There were 1.6 million truck drivers employed in 2012. Due to the recession, employment numbers dropped in 2009 but have been slowly rebounding consistently since 2011.

From 1990 to 2012 highway fatalities were down 45.2 percent per vehicle-mile of travel. Fatalities for all modes of transportation went down except for motorcycles. Light-duty vehicle occupant deaths decreased by the largest margin of 50.7 percent, followed by large-truck occupants at 46.1 percent.

FMCSA issued more than 24,000 warning letters in 2012 to commercial motor carriers whose safety data showed a lack of compliance with motor carrier safety regulations and whose safety performance had fallen to an unacceptable level. Nearly 3.6 million roadside inspections were conducted in 2012, a 46 percent increase from 2000. More than 60 percent of those inspections resulted in violations, with 20.1 percent of those vehicles placed out of service. Violations against drivers put 4.9 percent out of service. Vehicle violations outnumbered driver violations 1.5 to 1.

For the full report, click here.

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