Traffic volume now seems to be back to pre-pandemic levels. For two consecutive years, trucking researchers noted that trucks along US highways have slower average speeds. There’s a steady demand for freight transportation, but highway capacities can’t keep up.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently revealed its 12th annual list of the worst bottlenecks for trucks. It gathered truck GPS data from over 300 locations along US highways. Using various bottleneck analysis software and proprietary research methods, the report identified the most congested areas in the freight system.

Top Bottlenecks in the US Freight System

After monitoring 300 critical locations, ATRI identified the top 100 bottlenecks for 2023. For five consecutive years, the I-95 and SR 4 intersection in Fort Lee, New Jersey, remains at the top spot. Here are the ten worst bottlenecks trucks should avoid:

  1. I-95 at SR 4 (Fort Lee, New Jersey)
  2. I-294 at I-290/I-88 (Chicago)
  3. I-45 at I-69/US 59 (Houston)
  4. I-285 at I-85 (North – Atlanta)
  5. I-20 at I-285 (West – Atlanta)
  6. I-290 at I-90/I-94 (Chicago)
  7. SR 60 at SR 57 (Los Angeles)
  8. I-710 at I-105 (Los Angeles)
  9. I-24/I-40 at I-440 (East – Nashville, Tennessee)
  10. I-10 at I-15 (San Bernardino, California)

According to ATRI’s findings, the average speed during rush hour is 36.3 mph. That’s slower by 6.1% than the findings in 2022’s report. But for the top 100 bottlenecks, truck speeds are slow around the clock–not just during rush hour. The average truck speed doesn’t go beyond 45 mph for most of these locations. 

How the Trucking Industry Can Cope With Traffic Congestion

Bottlenecks and chokepoints add unnecessary stress to truck drivers’ lives. But there are more severe consequences. Traffic congestion costs the trucking industry billions of dollars in additional operating costs and billions of hours in wasted time. To make up for these losses, trucking companies can make the following adjustments:

Altering Operations

Some trucking companies have moved their warehouse to less congested areas. Others have adjusted their pick-up and delivery schedules to avoid rush hour. Some have even increased their shipment sizes to accommodate larger loads. While these adjustments come with various challenges, the time savings and lower costs are worth the trouble. 

Improving Route Planning

While the congestion problem isn’t easing up, data and technology can help truck drivers plan better routes. For example, they can use ATRI’s bottleneck data to check hourly congestion rates at the top bottlenecks. Some solutions can even alert truck drivers of slowdowns ahead. With access to real-time information, trucking companies can optimize their route plans and make timely deliveries. 

Upholding Safe Driving

Traffic accidents can cause even heavier congestion along highways. Trucking companies can prevent further delays by instilling safe driving habits among their drivers. While truck drivers can’t control the motorists around them, they can keep themselves safe through defensive driving. They can reduce the risk of accidents and setbacks by making well-informed decisions and anticipating potential risks. 

The Bottom Line

ATRI’s list of the top 100 bottlenecks in the US shows the need for infrastructure improvement. Congestion is taking a toll on the American economy, and something should be done to cut down on wasted time, money, and fuel.

Here at FCC, we put our drivers first. Looking for a new carrier to drive for? Consider driving for FCC today!