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Economic Analysis
  Current Economic Analysis Research

On-Board Safety Technology Economic Analysis & Deployment

Under contract to FMCSA, ATRI is completing benefit-cost analyses on motor carrier investments in rollover stability systems and forward collision warning systems, as well as providing technical support for the FMCSA cost-benefit analysis of lane departure warning systems.  ATRI is basing these analyses on crash costs collected from insurance companies, motor carriers and crash rates determined from public data sources like the General Estimates System (GES) and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) maintained by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.  Motor carriers were also interviewed to collect more detailed financial data on crash costs and alternative investment options This data is currently being analyzed to determine cost-benefit ratios and breakeven points for motor carriers.  ATRI was recently awarded a sole source contract from FMCSA to design a naturalistic field test of these safety systems to increase the amount of operational/field data generated and potentially design and test an after-market integrated system.   


Industry Involvement: Carriers have provided data on crash costs, technology efficacy rates and alternative investment decisions. 


Freight Capacity Model

Working closely with industry and government partners, ATRI is finalizing a software-based "freight capacity model" that will allow a range of public and private sector transportation stakeholders to test the impacts of policy and planning options using real-world data inputs.  The model allows users to either customize data for various objectives or use the model's default data.  Planning and policy objectives that can be modeled include traffic mixes, vehicle configuration and design considerations, freight growth, fuel efficiency, air quality and pavement impacts, among others.  The model is presently being beta-tested by industry and government representatives, with an expected final release date of 9/1/07. 


Industry Involvement: With congestion becoming a top industry concern, the freight capacity model was funded, designed and built using industry resources.  However, it is primarily based on readily available government data sources.  While the initial audience of the model was government planners and managers, the model has evolved to allow industry stakeholders to calculate different investment options.


Calculating the Operational Costs of Trucking

Numerous research studies and transportation initiatives attempt to document the practical, operational costs of different policies and programs.  When trucking industry impacts are included, these “consequence/impact analyses” are often based on speculative industry cost data – since there is considerable hesitancy to provide sensitive private sector data into the public domain.  However, without industry-generated cost data, government programs tend to over-value or under-value true industry operating costs.  The result may be programs, regulations and policies that create increased cost or burden to carriers.  ATRI is developing a research design that generates both aggregated and stratified operational costs of trucking.  Key metrics will include labor costs, fuel costs, shipper penalties and operating margins as they relate to alternative investment and alternative routing decisions.  To collect the data, ATRI is participating in Non-Disclosure agreements with carriers and drivers. 


Industry Involvement: The data is almost completely generated from carriers and drivers.  Draft metrics and findings will be reviewed by an industry advisory committee.


Canadian Issues Study

ATRI is part of a FMCSA-contracted team to identify, evaluate and quantify the impact of the lack of harmonization/reciprocity in U.S. and Canadian safety regulations.  The study will also attempt to quantify the impact of proposed FMCSA regulations on Canadian carriers involved in cross-border operations and to identify any issues which might impact future reciprocity/harmonization.  In addition to identifying and quantifying the impact of the safety regulation disconnects, the research will create a “one-stop shop” for carriers on both sides of the border to access all relevant safety requirements, including all safety regulation variations. 


Industry Involvement:  The first phase of the research was to document the safety regulations across the Canadian provinces and to identify the variances across Canada and between Canada and the U.S.   Canadian regulators at the provincial and national level were asked to identify the issues of greatest concern in terms of safety regulation variations.  As part of the phase one interviews, Canadian carrier associations (provincial and the Canadian Trucking Alliance) were consulted on the issues of concern.  During the second phase, ATRI will be convening a carrier stakeholder group of U.S. and Canadian carriers involved in cross-border operations for purposes of vetting the issues and to identify any additional areas of concern relative to safety regulation variations between the two countries.


Savannah Tollway Survey

The Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority is conducting a scoping study to determine the demand for and finance methods of a 15-mile highway that connects the Port of Savannah with the City of Savannah and areas outside of the city.  State transportation planners believe the proposal will have value to the trucking industry as a way to mitigate the impact of current infrastructure deficiencies.  Tolling of trucks is being considered as a finance option for the new capacity.  In an effort to gain the greatest level of industry input, ATRI has developed a survey tool that will determine the need for such a road, as well as the trucking industry’s willingness to pay for the infrastructure through tolling.  


Industry Involvement: Motor carriers operating in and around the Savannah area are being asked to complete the survey available online at www.atri-online.org.



NYSMTA Ton-Mile Tax Evasion Study

The State of New York is one of four that tax commercial vehicles through a third structure tax that is levied through a calculation of weight and distance.  In New York, the tax is known as the Ton-Mile Tax.  Two 1998 studies conducted by the Wharton Econometric Forecasting Association (WEFA) found that the tax, in general, impedes economic growth in New York, and that evasion of the tax is commonplace.   Nearly a decade after the WEFA studies, ATRI’s research will act as an update to this past research, and will use information that was not available in the past such as advanced vehicle miles traveled estimates for commercial trucks, as well as the effects of Idaho’s elimination of its weight-distance tax.


50 State Economic Analysis -

ATRI maintains an extensive database of state demographic and economic data relevant to the trucking industry. This data is updated annually from a variety of data sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Highway Administration, and other state data sources. The data is collected, cleaned, organized, and analyzed to present for each state. This analysis contributes to the reports that are available for state trucking associations on the ATRI website. These reports include: roadway extent and use, industry employment and wages, compendium of state fines for weight violations, and manufactured freight moved by mode among many others.


Industry Involvement: The state economic data is maintained for the exclusive use of the State Trucking Associations, who distribute it to state legislatures, the media and the general public to highlight the critical nature of trucking to the state economy. 

Completed Research


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