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Cost per mile drops, but labor & fuel still largest expense

ARLINGTON, Va. – Fleets that extremely sensitive to even the smallest change in operating costs need to manage costs more effectively than ever, according to a study by the American Transportation Research Institute.

Given the razor thin margins in the industry, monitoring and benchmarking expenses – such as drivers and fuel – is vital, according to ATRI's 2011 update to An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking.

ATRI identified 2008, 2009 and first quarter 2010 cost per mile and cost per hour figures stratified by fleet size, sector and region.

Based on feedback from the 2008 study, the per-truck speed calculation methodology was revised to better reflect the range of speeds at which trucks operate.

The average marginal cost per mile was $1.45 in 2009 and $1.49 in the first quarter of 2010 for the for-hire segment of the industry. These figures were lower than the average marginal cost per mile of $1.65 found in the revised 2008 analysis.

Fuel and driver wages (excluding benefits) continued to be the largest cost centers for carriers, constituting 58 percent of the average operating costs in the first quarter of 2010.  

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