Cost of Traffic

Dec 03, 2013

Everyday across the country, millions of Americans have to drive on congested roadways. Traffic has become the bane of existence for many nine-to-fivers whose commute involves the phenomenon. However, for fleet businesses whom generate revenue from driving, traffic jams cost them billions of dollars annually due to delays, wasted fuel and unproductive hours.  

For the average driver in America's busiest cities, an hour of their day is lost to traffic. TomTom's Traffic Index reports the most congested city as Los Angeles with a 24 hour congestion rate of 35%. This means that L.A. drivers are on the road a third more throughout the day than is designated by routes and speed limits. For rush hours, however, this number peaks at 55% in the morning and 78% in the evening. While the least congested city as reported by TomTom is Cleveland with a 24 hour congestion rate of 10%. The average congestion rate is 25% throughout the week. This much additional time on the road has an enormous impact on businesses relying on transportation for profit.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute researched the impact of traffic throughout the country in 2011 and the results are staggering:

~  5.5 billion extra hours of time is due to traffic

~ There are 2.9 billion gallons of fuel wasted due to idling in traffic

~ 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide are released into the air due to congested conditions

~ $27 billion caused for truck operations which was primarily passed onto consumers as higher retail prices

This $27 billion from trucking operations in congestion has an even greater impact upon subsequent links of the supply chain. Across the 15 most congested urban areas, the average commodity value transported was $208.9 million in 2011.  However, with an average 12.3 million hours of truck delay, this $200 million was increased to a value of $933 million due to the negative repercussions of congestion.

Intermodal terminals, warehouse districts and urban or rural corridors are the heaviest cause of truck congestion.  Unfortunately, until definitive plans for an upgraded interstate system and road surface network are produced by congress, there are few opportunities for businesses to reduce these costs of traffic. Technology utilization and scheduling or regulation enhancements can levy some of the burden congestion has on the bottom line, but the biggest relief will come from an updated national highway system.