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Performance Metrics Used by Freight Transport Providers - page 19 / 35





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W. Cottrell

Cal Poly Pomona

was being used as a mitigation against excessive highway speed, thus serving as a potential crash prevention action.

The commercial carriers studied tended to address safety in terms of claims costs, liability, and mitigating factors, rather than with crash- or incident-related measures. Claims and tort were, perhaps, consequential measures of incidents, whether vehicle- or load-related. It can be argued that crashes and incidents, along with crash and incident rates, are the most direct measures of safety; it can also be argued, though, that these measures are best recorded on a broad scale (e.g., statewide or nationwide), rather than on a per carrier basis.

For another perspective on performance among commercial carriers, the American Transportation Research Institute identified the trucking industry’s critical issues in 2007, based on a survey of trucking companies. The issues point toward performance measures that might be used to assess how well the needs of the trucking industry are being addressed. The critical issues can be grouped into eight subject areas:

  • Hours of service regulations

  • Driver availability and shortages

  • Fuel costs

  • Highway congestion

  • Toll costs

  • Tort and other liability matters

  • Environmental controls

  • On-board technology

In general, the trucking industry is concerned with heightened regulations that restrict operational flexibility, rising costs (in several areas), the costs of satisfying regulations, the effects of congestion, and improving safety (an outcome of which is tort and associated legal matters). Each of these issues suggests one or more performance measures, as follows:

Hours of service. Fundamental performance measures are the hours of service per driver, and the total hours of service per selected time period, such as a week, month or year. Driver-related measures, determined as an average per driver per selected time period, are the hours of sleep, on-duty hours, and off-duty hours. Other example time periods might be the 60- or 70-hour periods specified in the hours of service legislation.

Driver Availability and Shortages. A rising concern in the trucking industry is driver turnover – annual rates reportedly approach 100% for some carriers. Relevant performance measures include the annual driver turnover rate, driver retention rate, and annual driver recruitment and training costs. Measures related to driver workload include the miles per driver per day, tour length, average circuity per load, and first dispatch empty miles. A “circuity” is a (presumably roundabout) tour; the first dispatch empty miles represent the numerator of the empty miles factor as applied to the first pickup or delivery of the day.

Fuel Costs. The costs of fuel are typically incorporated into a carrier’s operating expenses. Rising fuel costs demand a separate consideration, however. Fundamental measures would include the average amount paid per gallon of diesel fuel, the total annual fuel expenses, and fuel efficiency (i.e., average miles per gallon). Similar measures for gasoline or other types of fuel may be applicable for certain truck companies having non-diesel vehicles.

Highway Congestion. As noted above, the FHWA has identified the average speed of travel and travel time reliability as two critical freight performance measures. Many carriers use 47 mph as the average speed at which freight will be transported, regardless of actual traffic conditions. Table 7 shows the car


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