Fleet owners who feel as though they have little control over the impact of traffic congestion on the efficiency of their operations should consider investing in routing software. Gridlock on highways and streets can present businesses with added costs. Delayed deliveries can damage relationships with clients and throw off entire dispatch schedules for days after a major jam. However, one of the central challenges of running a shipping company is finding a way to balance daily tasks amid these inevitable obstacles.
Delays are costly for trucking companies
Traffic congestion is a widespread problem throughout the U.S., and it won't disappear anytime soon. According to a recent report from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), a nonprofit industry organization, delays on interstate highways presented businesses with a total of $9.2 billion in added operational costs in 2013. Specifically, drivers spent more than 141 million collective hours waiting in traffic, which is time that could have been otherwise spent making additional deliveries. The report concluded that gridlock contributed $408 in lost productivity for every 12,000 miles logged per truck last year.
"Congestion is an unfortunate byproduct of our just-in-time economy, and it's a significant roadblock to our country's productivity as well as its global competitiveness," Jack Holmes, president of UPS Freight, stated in a press release from the ATRI.
The severity of traffic differs by region. Naturally, urban areas with a higher population density are more prone to delays. In fact, the metropolitan areas of New York City and Los Angeles each ranked among some of the most damaging regions in terms of costs imposed on trucking companies for idling on highways. Other cities aren't quite as bad. For example, the San Diego-based ABC news affiliate KGTV reported that the number of hours local drivers spent in traffic declined between 2011 and 2012. However, many argue that congestion is still a significant problem.
Route optimization software is the best tool fleet owners have for avoiding the need to waste time and money in traffic. Investing in this technology equips managers with the data necessary to make smarter decisions about which routes to avoid during rush periods. As a result, businesses will meet their scheduled deadlines more frequently and develop more positive relationships with their clients. Most importantly, these companies will benefit from the savings associated with dodging backups on gridlocked highways.