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Impacts of Highway Congestion on Freight Operations: Perceptions of Trucking Industry Managers

  • Author(s): Golob, Thomas F.
  • Regan, Amelia C.
  • et al.
Abstract

To better understand how road congestion adversely affects trucking operations, we surveyed approximately 1200 managers of all types of trucking companies operating in California. More than 80% of these managers consider traffic congestion on freeways and surface streets to be either a "somewhat serious" or "critically serious" problem for their business. A structural equations model (SEM) is estimated on these data to determine how five aspects of the congestion problem differ across sectors of the trucking industry. The five aspects were slow average speeds, unreliable travel times, increased driver frustration and morale, higher fuel and maintenance costs, and higher costs of accidents and insurance. The model also simultaneously estimates how these five aspects combine to predict the perceived overall magnitude of the problem. Overall, congestion is perceived to be a more serious problem by managers of trucking companies engaged in intermodal operations, particularly private and for-hire trucking companies serving airports and private companies serving rail terminals. Companies specializing in refrigerated transport also perceive congestion to be a more serious overall problem, as do private companies engaged in LTL operations. The most problematic aspect of congestion is unreliable travel times, followed by driver frustration and morale, then by slow average speeds. Unreliable travel times are a significantly more serious problem for intermodal air operations. Driver frustration and morale attributable to congestion is perceived to be more of a problem by managers of long-haul carriers and tanker operations. Slow average speeds are also more of a concern for airport and refrigerated operations.

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