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Could Traffic Improvements Reduce Car Transport Costs?

Car Transport Costs

The American Transportation Research Institute is an independent organization tasked with doing research to better transportation experiences. They do research in a broad variety of different categories. One of those categories: how improving traffic flow could reduce costs for truckers. This in turn will affect car transport costs for customers. Which is something they actually do on an ongoing basis.

The ATRI uses GPS data from over 1 million commercial trucks to “develop and monitor…key performance measures on the nation’s freight transportation system.” In other words, they use GPS data to study how well trucks get around the country. And using this data, they release their annual list of the worst bottlenecks in the nation, which you can read via the link above.

Studying these bottlenecks doesn’t just tell us what areas to avoid (if we can, that is). It also gives us insight into why these areas are bottlenecks, and potential ways to solve that problem. Which would be a major boon for car transport costs and the companies that foot that burden. Keep reading to find out how.

The link between congestion and car transport costs

Fuel may not be the largest factor in your cost to ship a car, but it’s definitely one of the major ones. And idling trucks burn a lot of fuel. In fact, the ATRI has come to the conclusion that congestion alone added over $15.74 billion to fuel costs for carriers alone.

Now, on a truck-by-truck basis that’s really not a lot. There’s tens of thousands of trucks on the road, and they haul anything and everything. But still, $15 billion in added costs because of bad traffic is something else entirely. And some of that burden is most definitely felt in the car shipping world.

The ATRI mostly focused on Atlanta’s “Spaghetti Junction,” the intersection of I-85 and I-285 just north of the city. This interchange is consistently ranked as one of the worst, if not the worst, in the entire U.S.

If the interchange was changed to be more free-flowing, with average speeds of just 55mph, the industry could save over 1.6 billion gallons of fuel per year.

Considering Atlanta is one of the nation’s premier auto shipping hubs, and sits just north of another one, this would be huge for car transport costs. If every carrier could save money along I-85 or I-95, that alone could result in a decrease in car transport costs year-round.

Unintended consequences (or perks, depending)

Reducing traffic and congestion in Spaghetti Junction is a massive undertaking. It would take a major infrastructure overhaul to rebuild the interchange to open up the bottleneck. So right now, actually fixing the problem likely isn’t feasible, at least from a monetary standpoint.

However, an 11% increase in fuel economy for trucks is no laughing matter either. We try to refrain from suggesting what states and cities should do in terms of their infrastructure, but this is something to look at.

Something else to think about: a reduction in congestion at Spaghetti Junction would also result in lower GHG emissions. Estimates say the change could result in a 17% reduction in fine particulate matter, 5.5% reduction in smog-forming NOx, and an 8% CO2 reduction.

In terms of saving the planet, that’s actually pretty good.

Now, imagine this applied to all the bottlenecks nationwide. Those in Dallas, Portland, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New York – any major city has its traffic issues, right? Reducing congestion would lower fuel costs for carrier companies and also lower GHG emissions. That’s a win-win, right?

Well, we have to go back to the whole issue of who’s upgrading the infrastructure. The U.S. is facing a kind of infrastructure crisis, with many of the nation’s roads and bridges either barely earning passable grades, or downright failing. It’s not just congested interchanges that need upgrading – it’s the entire network, nationwide. Right now, there’s too much work to be done to focus on just the bad interchanges across the nation.

Use American Auto Shipping for all your transport needs

Right now, it’s speculation regarding how improving traffic flow would reduce fuel consumption. There’s little doubt it would do at least some good, especially if Spaghetti Junction were to be fixed. But until then, things will continue the way they have been.

If you’re interested in shipping a vehicle, make sure to give us a call. It’s free and easy, and connects you directly with a representative. They can answer questions, give you a quote, and more. So no matter what your car shipping needs are, let us help you achieve them.

Dave Armstrong
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