The Real Cost of Trucking – Per Mile Operating Cost of a Commercial Truck

Cost of Trucking Per Mile

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12 comments. Add a comment.

  1. Howard Turpin says

    Many thanks for the inf0 and the for the subsequent comments. There are lots of national trucking companies these days that are putting the squeeze on newly trained drivers to lease their trucks at rates that just don’t make any sense what-so-ever but these guys are grateful to have a job, mostly uninformed about what they are getting into and anxious to “be their own bosses”. Hopefully, this information and the comments will help them become better informed.

  2. says

    Thanks for the well put together information on trucking costs. It is a big help in computing my start up costs and putting together my business plan. I agree with Howard that new truck drivers like myself are easily taken advantage of by the larger fish. Like working for the company store if you ask me…

  3. Anonymous says

    There’s a lot of good info here in a great visual format. I’d like to add the fact that many owner operators will go through brokerage firms like ch Robinson, access America or others to find loads. As a broker I can say this is a huge hassle for operators and can take up a major portion of every day. If you’re thinking of starting up be prepared to multitask constantly, be assertive, and work day and night. (And for gods sake use a broker that does not get paid on commission)

  4. Gary says

    As Steve requests, I would also like to learn more about why not to use a broker that works on commission. Please enlighten us!!

  5. Keith Piercy says

    You should use anyone who fits into your business plan that is the easiest for you to manage. If you need to make say $500.00 per day to pay for all expenses, including your salary, then by all means use that person. Brokers provide a source of income for you at a minimal fee. They usually work on a 10% commission. Do the math. Would you be willing to spend all day making $150.00 on a load, or getting a shipping number, and driving. You make money when the rig has a live load, or loaded miles. If you calculate the time taken away from loaded miles, you will be shocked! Your job is to drive, so if someone is willing to provide you with revenue, then by all means let them do it. You have the benefit of either taking a load ,or turning one down. If you have the means to dispatch yourself, then do it. Most guys simply don’t have the time. The smart drivers have a woman back at the ranch, working the deals. Sometimes that can cost more than 10% so be careful who you get into business with LOL!

  6. Glen says

    fairly accurate, but I would bump the repairs/maintenance to .25+ cpm for 2007 and newer trucks. Personally I’m at .43 cpm repairs on Q1 of this year and have averaged over $50,000 for the last three years in repairs.

    Big trucks take big bucks and if your gonna play the game you had better know your numbers

  7. Jason says

    A couple of other comments regarding factors that impact this cost module. Trailer ratio – if you are a regional fleet, then you most likely keep a 3:1 trailer ratio – so you need to build that into your truck and trailer cost. For example – if 1 trailer equates to .06/mi, then 3 trailers equates to .18 per mile.

    Driver wages in your scenario seem low. This can depend on your geographical location. For example, our small fleet is based in upstate NY. Long Haul dedicated drivers are paid .40-.42 +, and regional drivers paid .50-.52_. We figure our employment costs of benefits and Workers Comp is 33%. So if a driver is paid .42 per mile, our real cost of the driver is .56 per mile.

    Tolls vary from state to state. Our fleet is based in upstate NY – where we have tolls everywhere! We average $900/mo per truck for tolls which equates to roughly .09/mile! Plus the .025/mile for licensing and IFTA taxes. So we are paying .115 per mile compared to your scenario of .02 per mile.

    You also need to figure in a cost for your overhead. This includes your building, energy, phones, internet, computers, office support, etc. We usually figure a number of $150 per day per truck, which equates to roughly .31 per mile.

    You also haven’t figured any cost for driver turnover. I am not talking about the cost to advertise and interview… but about the cost of empty trucks sitting in your yard. This is a real expense for every fleet in the country. We haven’t yet figured a cost for this. We have a fairly low turnover rate of 40% as compared to the national average that is over 80%… however it is much too high for my liking. Over the past 6 months, we have averaged 10% of our fleet sitting idle in the yard.

    If you add all of this up, our cost per mile in NY is closer to $2.10 per mile!!

    • says

      Excellent insight, Jason! Thanks for taking the time to help others understand the additional costs of running a trucking company beyond the factors outlined in the article.

  8. tohm Smith says

    Jason- freight sucks out of NY so if your paying 2.10/mile and only getting about 1.70 its easy to see that your going to be out of business in no time!! you better start cutting costs my friend.

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