The Effect of Trucks Dispatch Decisions on Pavement Damage and Other Externalities

Research Team: Linda Cohen (lead) and Kevin Roth

UC Campus(es): UC Irvine

Problem Statement: External costs of freight trucks include air pollution, highway damage, and congestion. Diesel taxes can be used to reduce both the pollution and congestion externalities but may also serve as an incentive for shippers to maximize truck loading and increase total truck weight, which may generate more road damage.

Project Description: A research team at UC Irvine investigated the impact of fuel prices on cargo shipments using weight-in-motion data from New York and California. Sensor readings were obtained from over 1.4 billion vehicle events. These data allowed the research team to track daily changes in the weight and number of trucks at specific locations. Researchers found that when fuel prices increase 10 percent, fuel use by heavy trucks declines 3.1 percent and average truck weight increases 3.2 percent. Also, while total truck traffic decreases by around 1 percent, on net there is 19.6 percent more road damage. While there is considerable uncertainty about the cost of external congestion and safety of trucks, fuel efficiency standards dominate fuel taxes as a policy to reduce carbon emissions for a wide range of parameter estimates.

Status: Completed

Budget: $30,861

Project Partner(s): California Air Resources Board, Caltrans, State Board of Equalization, California Energy Commission

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Policy Brief(s):
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