3 Ways Truckers Can Fight Summer Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion: It’s a trucker’s headache.

A simple principle generally causes bottlenecks and traffic congestion: The roads and interchanges located in the worst spots are either poorly designed given traffic volumes or simply need more lanes. Unfortunately, the solution can be worse than the problem: Highway or road redesigns and new construction can sometimes cause bottlenecks, according to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).

ATRI estimates that the trucking industry lost $75 billion in 2018 due to congestion and traffic jams. This translates to over 400,000 commercial truck drivers sitting idle for a year, per the report last conducted in 2018 by ATRI.

Summer traffic congestion: The biggest U.S. bottlenecks

Want to know which places to avoid? ATRI lists the top 100 truck bottlenecks each year. ATRI gathers GPS data from over one million freight trucks, then analyzes the data to “quantify the impact of traffic congestion on truck-borne freight at over 300 specific locations.

For 2021, the top 10 bottlenecks in the US are Fort Lee, NJ; Cincinnati, OH; Atlanta, GA; Houston, TX; Chicago, IL; Chattanooga, TN; St. Louis, MO; Rye, NY; and San Bernardino, CA.

But of course, most carriers have their unique places of horror that cause dispatchers migraines and hold up freight.

How to earn more money driving

As post-pandemic travel gears up and roads jam this summer, consider incorporating the following steps as a defense against losing money while stuck in congestion or being late with freight:

  1. Trust your drivers’ knowledge and experience. While technology is a valuable tool, you’ll do best when using it combined with drivers’ wealth of information about when lanes will be congested and when known bottlenecks will materialize.
  2. Work with shippers and receivers on parking and drop trailers. You can ask customers to allow you to park overnight on their lots, so your drivers don’t have to time their arrival while fighting traffic. By getting there early, drivers can park, rest, and have the freight unloaded in the morning. You can also negotiate a drop-and-hook strategy with shippers, so your drivers can drop off shipments and pick up a new load at a time that works for them.
  3. Rely on on-the-ground data for rerouting. Using data from state departments of transportation, GPS sources, and the drivers themselves, you’ll be able to communicate in real-time with drivers about traffic. You’ll also want to use a TMS that offers transportation planning, taking data from a trip where the driver encountered congestion at a particular time and incorporating that knowledge into planning future trips.

Use technology to combat traffic congestion

To better manage predictability around your drivers, it also helps to run scenarios factoring loads, origins/destinations, hours-of-service (HOS) requirements, and real-world ETAs. This approach lets you develop a step-by-step plan defining where they need to go for their pickups and deliveries and enabling them to stay compliant with their HOS requirements.

The Axele TMS provides smart planning of routes to help drivers avoid congestion in a particular location at a particular time. Because the Axele TMS collects data across multiple systems and devices, transport planners can analyze and decide on the best route for the best driver for the most profitable load. Contact Axele today.

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