The United States trucking industry is one of the largest revenue streams in the nation’s economy and is responsible for transporting 70 percent of all goods in the U.S. In 2019, the industry’s total revenue reached $791.7 billion. Aside from the transportation of goods, the trucking industry employs millions of workers, making up about six percent of the nation’s workforce.
While the industry is a foundational sector of our economy, there are many different factors that are starting to change the way the industry performs. With the ongoing driver shortages and the rise in self-driving trucks, we may start to see a shift in the way this industry operates. Read on to find out some key trucking industry statistics regarding the current state of the industry and future projections.
Trucking Industry Facts and Figures
Without the trucking industry, our nation would not be the same, as it’s an essential industry that helps keep us afloat. Since the trucking and freight industry is such a lucrative source of income for the nation’s economy, a lot of businesses rely on it for their everyday operations. The industry represents more than half of the nation’s freight bill, and without it, our economy would suffer. For-hire carriers and private carriers make up most of the nation’s trucking companies.
- In 2019, 80.4% of the nation’s freight bill came from trucking revenue.1
- There were a total 928,647 for-hire carriers on file in April 2020.1
- In April 2020, there were a total of 799,342 private carriers on file.1
- 13.4% of all registered vehicles are commercial trucks.2
- In 2017, 3.68 million Class 8 trucks were in operation.2
- The total number of trucks registered and used for business reached 36 million in 2017.2
- According to the most recent report, commercial trucks paid $17.7 billion in federal highway-user taxes in 2017.2
- Commercial trucks paid $25.8 billion in state highway-user taxes in 2017.2
- As of January 2019, 24.44¢ of federal fuel tax was used to pay for each gallon of diesel fuel.2
Transportation and Moving Stats
The trucking industry is responsible for transporting goods all over the nation as well as our bordering countries. Freight trucks carry a variety of consumer goods, everything from food to cars or raw materials and oil. As the American Trucking Association puts it, every good in the U.S has been on a truck at some point in its journey.
- In 2019, the trucking industry moved 11.84 billion tons of freight.1
- Trucks moved a total of $772 billion worth of freight in 2019.1
- In 2019, 67.7% of goods moved between the U.S. and Canada were transported by trucks.1
- 83.1% of cross-border trade with Mexico was moved by trucks in 2019.1
- 72.5% of freight transported in the U.S. in 2019 was hauled by trucks.2
Employment Demographics and Compensation
It’s no secret that the trucking industry is primarily a male dominant workforce. Though it’s a racially diverse industry, there was only about a two percent increase in the amount of women employed in the last 18 years, and recruiting female drivers is a problem the industry continues to face. The industry’s average median salary is not very competitive compared to other sectors, which may contribute to the high turnover rate and difficulty in recruiting drivers.
- In 2018, there were 3.5 million truck drivers employed in the U.S. (American Trucking Association)
- 7.8 million people were employed in trucking related jobs in the U.S in 2018. (American Trucking Association)
- 6.7% of the truck drivers in the U.S are women. (American Trucking Association)
- 41.5% of the trucking industry drivers are minorities. (American Trucking Association)
- The average age of drivers in the trucking industry is 46 years old. (American Trucking Association)
- The average annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is $46,370. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- The average annual salary for light or delivery service truck drivers is $41,960. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- In July 2020, the average hourly earnings for employees in the industry was $26.30. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- The average industry employee worked 41.2 hours per week in July 2020. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Statistics on Driver Shortages
One of the leading problems the industry is currently facing is the shortage of truck drivers. According to the American Trucking Association, the industry has been struggling with this problem on and off since 2015. One of the leading causes keeping the driver shortage high is the high average age of the current workforce.
With the average age of truck drivers reaching 46 years and above, these existing drivers have or will start to retire, and the industry is struggling to replace them. Aside from that, more companies are cracking down on safety prioritization and are having trouble finding qualified drivers.
- In 2018, the trucking industry was short 60,800 drivers, which was the record high and up 20 percent from the previous year. (American Trucking Association)
- In 2019, it was expected that the average shortage of drivers would decrease to 59,500. (American Trucking Association)
- If the current trends continue, the shortage could reach 160,000 by 2028. (American Trucking Association)
- Employment for truck drivers was projected to grow by only 2 percent from 2019 to 2029. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- To combat the driver shortage, the industry will need to hire about 1.1 million new drivers for the next decade or an average of 110,000 drivers per year. (American Trucking Association)
- The largest factor contributing to the driver shortage is retiring truck drivers who will need to be replaced with new hires, which will account for 54% of new driver hires. (American Trucking Association)
Liabilities, Accidents and Fleet Driver Safety Statistics
With the amount of miles fleet drivers have to travel daily, mixed with the long hours and hard working conditions, it’s no surprise that accidents and crashes happen. Over the years the industry has seen an increase in crashes leading to fatalities. These types of accidents usually occur from distracted driving and other driver behaviors. Trucking companies have also started to see an increase in insurance premiums due to these accidents.
With this in mind, companies are starting to take driver safety more seriously to avoid any liabilities. Depending on the circumstances around the incident, the driver or the company could be liable. The cargo manufacturer or loader could also be responsible should there be any issues when transporting fleet. In these instances, a freight broker bond could protect the shipper or carrier.
- In 2018, 4,136 people died in large truck crashes. (U.S Department of Transportation)
- 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths that occurred in 2018 involved large trucks. (U.S Department of Transportation)
- In 2018, 74% of large truck crashes involved tractor trailers. (U.S Department of Transportation)
- 27% of large truck crashes involved a single-unit truck in 2018. (U.S Department of Transportation)
- 52% of crash deaths involving large trucks occurred on major roads. (U.S Department of Transportation)
- 33% of crash deaths involving large trucks occurred on freeways and interstates. (U.S Department of Transportation)
- The average cost of loss related to a fleet vehicle accident is $70,000.(Automotive Fleet)
- Insurance premiums for trucking companies have seen a huge spike in the last few years, totaling around $12,000 to $14,000 today. (NU Property Casualty 360)
Self-Driving Trucks and the Future of Trucking
Self-driving automotives have started to make their way into the U.S trucking industry. While many believe that this could put drivers out of work, these trucks still need human supervision and could be a solution to the driver shortage in the industry, as they can provide opportunities for people who wouldn’t have considered becoming a driver before. Autonomous trucks can also help decrease the chances of driver accidents on the road. Most trucking accidents are caused by human errors, but so far with this technology, error is extremely minimal.
San Diego based company TuSimple has already started testing their self-driving trucks and predicts these trucks will not only have a positive impact on the industry, but the environment as well. TuSimple says their technology is aimed at transforming the trucking industry by reducing carbon emissions, lowering costs, and increasing safety.
- By 2025, the global self-driving truck market is expected to reach $1,699 million. (Allied Market Research)
- The compound annual growth rate for the autonomous truck industry is expected to reach 18.6% by 2025. (Mordor Intelligence)
- A survey found that more than half of small businesses believe fleets will be completely autonomous in 20 years. (Nissan Motor Corporation)
- The same survey found that 37% of small business owners believe that fleets could go fully autonomous in as little as 10 years. (Nissan Motor Corporation)
- In a study conducted by TuSimple, they found that their self-driving trucks were 10% more fuel efficient than traditional trucks. (TuSimple)
- TuSimple says applying their self-driving technology can help save about 42 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. (TuSimple)
- Applying TuSimple’s technology to all diesel trucks could result in saving 4 billion gallons of fuel with a cost savings of $10 billion per year. (TuSimple)
Though the trucking industry has gone through major shifts in recent years, it still remains one of the nation’s most profitable sectors. Self-driving trucks could be the future of the trucking industry and help solve the current problems it faces. New technology can seem scary to an industry that’s been doing well for years, but embracing this change can create a safer industry and contribute to a safer environment overall.