It probably comes at no surprise, but trucking costs have been on a steep curve upward, reports the American Transportation Research Institute.
Overall, costs measured by surveys conducted between April and August this year were up from 2017 for almost every cost center line item, with the average Cost Per Mile (CPM) rising more than 6% to $1.691.
Fuel prices rebounded from their lowest point in a decade to rise 9.3% in 2017. Major increases to driver and mechanic pay and benefits stem from the worsening truck driver skilled worker shortage in the United States.
Driver wages, increasing for the fifth consecutive year, were up 6.6% and benefits rose 11.2%. The combined cost of driver wages and benefits represented 43% of the overall cost per mile.
Noting that driver benefits rose to 17.2 cents per mile, the researchers said, “This indicates that in addition to offering higher base pay, carriers recognized that benefits and other indirect rewards and incentives can play a critical role in driver recruitment and retention.”
Benefits offered by fleets increasingly range from full medical, dental and vision coverage to matching 401(k) payments.
The growing cost and sophistication of newer truck models continues to drive up costs for purchasing and repair and maintenance. Operational costs have now surpassed the 10-year average since ATRI began its annual cost research in 2008.
In ATRI’s cost breakdown tolls increased 9.9%, tires were up 7.8%, permits and licenses rose 6.4% and truck/trailer lease or purchases payments were up 3.3%.
A growing majority (62.7%) said they are offering incentives beyond base pay, including safe driving bonuses that averaged $1,300 and annual on-time delivery bonuses averaging $2,500. The average starting bonus was up from $980 in 2017 to $1,400.