Freight Transport by Road in the USA

An Expert's View about Road Freight in the United States

Last updated: 15 Mar 2011

The road freight transport and trucking industry is a major sector of the U.S. economy that accounts for approximately 63 percent of the value of all American commercial freight activity. Between 1993 and 2002, industry value increased by $2 trillion, rising to $6.7 trillion, and its share of total freight tonnage rose from 54 percent to 58 percent.


Long-distance trucking forms the larger portion of the general freight trucking industry. It consists of companies that transport a broad range of commodities, usually in pallets stored in containers or van trailers. Long-distance freight trucking firms typically transport cargo between metropolitan areas and often cross national borders between North American countries.


In 2008, the U.S. long-distance freight trucking industry generated roughly $127.5 billion in revenue, with a $45.5 billion value for industry gross product. It employed over 800,000 workers, although there has been growing concern for hiring and retaining qualified drivers. Truckload carriers accounted for nearly three-quarters of products and services offered in the sector, while less-than-truckload carriers provided the minority portion.


Like long-distance trucking, local freight trucking also focuses on transporting palletized cargo in containers or van trailers, but operates over shorter distances and does not cross international borders. Local general freight trucking companies typically move goods within the different regions of a metropolitan area and may cross state boundary lines to deliver cargo. Due to the shorter distances, most trips are same-day return.


The overall revenue for the local trucking industry totaled approximately $27.4 billion in 2008, with an industry gross product value of $13.9 billion. The sector employed nearly 200,000 workers that year while confronting problems caused by driver shortages and elevated fuel prices. In terms of international merchandise trade, the freight trucking industry as a whole (both local and long-distance variants) had exports valued at roughly $267 billion in 2007 and imports in the amount of $287 billion for an approximate total of $555 billion in trade value for that year.

Posted: 10 November 2010, last updated 15 March 2011

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Freight Transport by Road in the USA   By ThomasNet