Congested Traffic Costing Trucking Industry Billionsby Jana Ritter - Published: 4/25/2016
Truck drivers already spend too much time waiting to pick-up and drop-off loads, and according to a recent study they’re losing a lot more time to traffic congestion on U.S. roads. The American Transport Research Institute reported that in 2014 alone, truckers lost 728 million hours in delivery time to congested traffic and it’s the equivalent to 264,500 commercial truck drivers not doing their job for an entire work year. That amount calculated to $1 billion in time lost to traffic congestion, and in Florida and Texas, the total reached $4 billion.
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The American Society of Civil Engineers also conducted a study to determine a possible remedy and they determined the U.S. needs to invest $1.7 trillion into its surface transportation by 2020. “This is a huge issue. “Delays cost money and ultimately increase the cost of transported goods,” said Joe Rajkovacz, governmental affairs director of the Western States Trucking Association. Cathy Morrow Roberson, chief analyst at Logistics Trends & Insights added that Increased trade by the North American Free Trade Agreement is also contributing to congestion problems along the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico. “The U.S. continues to lag in infrastructure improvements, and instead of being able to invest back into their businesses, shippers and carriers end up with unnecessary extra costs to simply move goods within the country,” Robertson said. “There are so many projects that need to be addressed – ports, dams, inland waterways, roads – and never enough money to go around.”
The growth of e-commerce has also added to the pressure as next-day, same-day and two-day delivery of goods is becoming the standard and to meet the demand, companies are setting up warehouses and freight distribution centers closer to already congested metropolitan areas. Amazon now has over 100 centers throughout the country and the locations are within 20 miles of 31 percent of the U.S. population and within 20 miles of more than half of its same-day delivery market. In order to compete, other companies are also offering the speedy delivery services and this norm has quickly added to the burden of an already stressed road system.
But according to Robertson, the real problem is the politics of finding a solution and determining who should pay for new roadways. Before it was primarily fuel taxes funding most road construction but as the fuel economy of both cars and commercial vehicles continues to rise, it lowers tax collections from fuel sales. Basically, drivers are increasing the wear on roads but they aren’t contributing any more to funding the maintenance and repairs. “Perhaps infrastructure problems should not be strictly a political concern but a business and government concern,” Roberson said. “Maybe it’s time for businesses to have their say and offer solutions and funding for projects that directly impact them.”