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Traffic Congestion is More Than an Inconvenience

Traffic Congestion is More Than an Inconvenience

Latest report reveals traffic congestion costing US transportation industry more than $63 billion a year

Author: FleetLogik/Monday, May 22, 2017/Categories: Featured, In the News

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Traffic congestion is more than an inconvenience.  It is a significant drain on the nation’s transportation efficiency and productivity.  According to the latest American Transportation Research Institute study, congestion cost the trucking industry more than $63.4 billion in operating cost in 2015, up 28% over the previous year.  This equates to more than 996 million hours of delays on the national highway system, up from 728 million hours the year before.  As a staggering perspective, this loss in productivity is the equivalent of 362,243 truck drivers sitting idle for an entire year, according to ATRI.  

This does not take into account lost productive hours or overtime incurred by the nations commuters and other local vehicle dependent operations nor the increased cost of goods and services as a result of the lost productivity.  “This is not the trucking industry’s cost alone to bear,” said Rebecca Brewster, president and chief operating officer of ATRI.  “It really starts to play itself out through the cost of goods.”


Not surprisingly, as much as 91% of congestion is in urban areas.  The report cites increased e-commerce, which translates into more trucks on the road.  “When the infrastructure can’t handle the increased traffic, we have the situation that we have now” said Brewster.  Other contributors to increased traffic congestion cited by the report include:

  • A dramatic increase in traffic incidents including a 3.8 percent increase in police- reported crashes and a 7.2 percent increase in fatalities from motor vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways, the largest percentage increase in nearly 50 years.
  • Annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 2.596 percent.
  • Growth in e-commerce sales of 14.6 percent over 2014.
  • Weather impacts including the 2015 North American blizzard (also known as Winter Storm Juno) which impacted the northeastern U.S. in January 2015.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan area in Florida was accountable for over $2 billion in congestion costs alone, more than the entire FL state combined. Focusing on congestion in bottleneck areas around metropolitan areas may be able to significantly improve the situation, according to ATRI.

 Most Congested Roadways by State


Most of the top 10 congested states remained the same, except for Ohio and Tennessee, which joined the top 10 for the first time.  Ohio saw the most significant increase from 21st to 8th,  which ATRI said was likely attributed to over 80 state roadway construction projects, grid-locking the state’s transportation system.  The full report can be downloaded here.  

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