In its recently released 2012 Urban Mobility Report
, researchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found traffic congestion cost truck drivers $27 billion in 2011.
The total cost of congestion for all transport totaled $121 billion, a $1 billion rise over the previous year. The small increase from 2010 belies a more alarming trend. In 2000, traffic congestion cost $94 billion, and 31 years ago, the total only reached $24 billion. Researchers predict that the total cost of congestion will grow to $199 billion in 2020.
The total amount of wasted fuel due to congestion in 2011 remained unchanged from 2010 at 2.9 billion gallons. Carbon dioxide emissions attributed to traffic congestion reached 56 billion pounds in 2011.
Trucking issues aren’t limited to the nation’s highways. Trucks, the report found, only account for 7 percent of the miles traveled in urban areas, but account for 23 percent of urban congestion.
A mix of more efficient traffic management, new construction and better public transportation would help reduce the money lost due to congestion, the report found. New roads, additional lanes on existing roads and developing truck-only lanes would help alleviate some trucking issues. The effectiveness of these measures will, of course, vary from location to location. Regulatory changes could also help reduce truck congestion, researchers found.
As an offshoot of the capacity analysis, researchers developed a reliable trip-planning tool. Using the planning-time index would allow truck drivers to sufficiently plan for delays caused by the nation’s massive congestion issues. On freeways, the index measurement varies from a relatively small delay of nine minutes in Pensacola, Fla., in light traffic to a three-hour addition for the same trip in Washington, D.C.
“We all understand that trips take longer in rush hour, but for really important appointments, we have to allow increasingly more time to ensure an on-time arrival,” TTI’s Bill Eisele said in a statement. “As bad as traffic jams are, it’s even more frustrating that you can’t depend on traffic jams being consistent from day-to-day. This unreliable travel is costly for commuters and truck drivers moving goods.” - Jon Ross