Average Cost Per Mile for Trucking Passes $2: An In-depth Look at Rising Trucking Costs

July 21, 2023

John Reynolds had a big semi truck load on his hands—a load of fridges needed to get from Charlotte to the Big Apple.

He threw the job up on the load board at $2 per mile, already aware of the average pay per mile for truck drivers. He knew it was a bit low and prepared himself for the inevitable negotiating.

But John was shocked!

His phone lit up like a Christmas tree. Texts, emails, calls - drivers were jumping at the chance to haul those fridges. No haggling, bargaining, just a desperate scramble for the job.

It hit John hard. This is the harsh reality America's truck drivers are facing today. Trucking costs are rising year after year and work is getting scarce. Too many drivers are chasing too few jobs, which is driving down rates.

It's a tough time for the industry. Many still remember the trucking crash in 2019 when hundreds of trucking companies went under, unable to keep up with the cost of trucking per mile while the rates took a nosedive. It's starting to feel similar, and for many truckers, it's a fight for survival.

John looked at his buzzing phone, the flood of messages, and couldn't help but feel sympathy. These were hardworking folks, just trying to keep up wit the trucking costs per mile in a challenging market. It was a sobering moment and a reminder of what our truckers go through.


The Report: Unpacking the Average Cost per Mile for Trucking in 2023

In June 2023, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) did a deep dive into the costs of trucking costs per mile, in a report called "An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking". The average cost per mile for trucking they came up with might shock you, but for the drivers out there on the road, it's just another day in the life. But to really know what's going on, you should understand the impact it's having on the drivers, the industry, and even you as a consumer.

So, let's break it down…

Here are a few key findings:

  • The cost of trucking hit a new high in 2022 going above $2 per mile for the first time in history
  • Cost per mile increased 21.3% to $2.25
  • From 2020, cost per mile has risen 34% and .61 cents more per mile
  • ATRI said that costs went up by about 2x the rate of inflation
  • Fuel cost 53.7% more
  • Trucks and trailers went up by 18.6%
  • Repair and maintenance went up by 12%
  • The number of miles driver per truck has been going down


By carrier type:

  • Truckload - +23.6% highest
  • LTL - +17.6% lowest
  • Specialized - +21.4% flatbed, tanker, refrigerated, and intermodal carriers

Trucker Costs: How Rising Rates Per Mile Impact Drivers

The trucking costs rising drivers are feeling it where it hurts - their paychecks. Even though they're putting in the same hard work, the average pay per mile for truck drivers is falling, leaving them with less to bring home to their families. It's like running a race where the finish line keeps moving further away. And it's not just about the paycheck. Stress levels, family life, and general well-being are directly tied to finances. With the price tag on trucking shooting through the roof, it's like a pressure cooker out there. It's a tough gig, especially for the new drivers just starting their journey in trucking. They're not just duking it out with other drivers for freight, they're also wrestling with these sky-high costs, trying to figure out how to keep the wheels turning. But despite all these challenges, truckers are a tough bunch. They keep on trucking, delivering goods that you and I rely on every day. And that's something to be proud of.


Industry Trends: The Effect of Rising Trucking Costs Per Mile on the Trucking Industry

These rising trucking costs per mile are like an oversized load on the industry's back. Trucking companies, especially the smaller ones, are feeling the pinch. Some are even struggling to keep their heads above water. If things don't turn around, we could see more companies going under, just like in the 2019 crash. And when that happens, it's not just the company that goes under. It's jobs, livelihoods, and families.

The industry might start looking different, too. Bigger fleets could start taking over, as they're often better equipped to handle these trucker costs and start snapping up the smaller companies and growing their fleets. Did you know that over 90% of carriers in the U.S. are small operations with six or fewer trucks? That means that most of the trucks you see on the road are driven by regular people just like us, working hard to make ends meet and build a life for their families.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Tough times lead to big changes. Companies start looking for more efficient ways to do things or turn to new tech to cut trucking costs. It's like that old saying - necessity is the mother of invention. And no matter what, the trucking industry is still a crucial cog in the economy's wheel.


Customer Impact: How Rising Trucking Costs Affect Consumers

Now, you might be thinking, "What does the trucking costs per mile have to do with me?" Well, let me tell you. When trucking costs go up, it doesn't just stay in the trucking industry. It trickles down to all of us, the customers. We start seeing the rising trucking costs in the price tags at the store and in the delivery fees for our online shopping. It's like a hidden tax that you didn't even know you were paying.

And it's not just about the money. With average pay per mile for truck drivers decreasing, deliveries start taking longer. You find yourself waiting an extra day or two for the packages you're expecting. But through it all, one thing remains clear - trucking is the backbone of our supply chain, and we all rely on it more than we realize. And even in tough times with rising trucking costs, the industry keeps on delivering.

Final Thoughts: Steering the Future Amid High Trucking Costs 


Sure, trucking costs are high in the trucking industry. But if there's one thing we've learned, it's that truckers are some of the toughest folks around. We've weathered storms before, and we'll weather this one too. We'll find ways to adapt, to innovate, to keep those wheels turning. Because that's what we do.

And that's where you come in. We can all do our part to support our truckers, who are grappling with the average cost per mile for trucking. They're the backbone of our economy, and they deserve our respect and support. Whether it's spreading the word about the rising costs and challenges our truckers face or choosing to do business with companies that treat their drivers well, every little bit helps.

Here at MigWay, we've used these challenges of high trucking costs per mile to become better than ever. We've cut the fat, become leaner and more efficient, and kept our focus on the heart of our business - our drivers and our customers. And you know what they say about tough times, they don't last but tough people do. We've learned, we've grown, and we've become stronger. We're not just a company; we're a family, and we're ready to face the future together.

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