Bottlenecks cost trucking industry nearly $8 billion per year, study says

| 2/6/2006

Bottlenecks on highways throughout the nation idled trucks for more than 243 million hours in 2004, costing U.S. trucking companies $7.8 billion, according to a study prepared for the Federal Highway Administration.

The study by Cambridge Systematics Inc., in association with the Battelle Memorial Institute, was an initial effort to identify and quantify highway traffic jams that delay trucks and increase costs to businesses and consumers. It found the worst bottlenecks in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Columbus, OH, and Portland, OR.

The study estimates a direct user delay cost of $32.15 per hour based on four major types of truck-related delays along freight corridors, including constraints at interchanges, signalized intersections, holdups caused by steep grades and lane reductions.

When truck deliveries are delayed by congestion, freight transportation costs increase due to unnecessary fuel consumption, lost driver time and productivity, and disruption of pick-up and delivery schedules, particularly with critical just-in-time freight.

Overall, bottlenecks account for 40 percent of vehicle delays, with the balance caused by construction work zones, crashes, breakdowns, bad weather and poor signal timing.

“Bottlenecks that harm truckers hurt other highway users and the public at-large,” said Greg Cohen, president and CEO of the American Highway Users Alliance. “Unfortunately, all levels of government are failing to focus their resources on the efficient movement of goods.”

The study authors concluded that these bottlenecks are a federal concern because they are a significant national problem for trucking and the efficient operation of the national freight transportation system. The report recommends, therefore, that federal resources should focus on improving highway bottlenecks.