20 Freight Shipping Facts and Statistics

Posted On 14th December 2014

At FreightRun, we provide our clients with a free instant freight quote from up to 75 of the top shipping companies in North America with our easy-to-use interactive website.

Freight shipping is a big business in the United States – moving millions of tons from individuals and businesses from coast to coast every day.

We've compiled some of the most interesting freight shipping facts and statistics highlighting the importance of freight transportation in the United States.

  1. In 2012 the U.S. transportation system moved a daily average of about 54 million tons of freight valued at nearly $48 billion.
  2. The value of freight moved is expected to increase faster than the weight, rising from $882 per ton in 2007 to $1,377 per ton in 2040 when controlling for inflation.
  3. Exports and imports accounted for 11% of the tons and 19% of the value in 2007 and are forecast to make up an even greater share of freight moving throughout the United States in the future, reaching 19% of the tons and 31% of the value by 2040.
  4. Approximately 50% of the weight and 40% of the value of goods were moved less than 100 miles between origin and destination in 2007.
  5. Trucks move the largest percentage of goods across all distance bands, with the largest share, 84%, occurring at the shortest distances (less than 750 miles).
  6. Nearly 40% of the total value of goods are moved less than 100 miles while long-distance moves (2,000 or more miles) accounted for 7% of the total value of shipments.
  7. Trucks carry the largest share of goods by weight for distances less than 750 miles and more than 2,000 miles.
  8. The vast majority of freight tonnage (87%) is moved over distances less than 750 miles.
  9. Approximately 75% of freight tons in U.S. foreign trade moved by water in 2012.
  10. Canada is this country’s top trading partner followed by China and Mexico.
  11. China’s share of trade with the United States more than doubled between 2000 and 2012, from about 6% in 2000 to 14% in 2012.
  12. Trucks carried 60% of the value of goods traded with Canada and Mexico in 2012.
  13. In 2011, 7,662 oceangoing vessels made 67,929 calls at U.S. ports, a 13% increase from the previous year, with tankers accounting for 35% of total calls, followed by containerships(33%) and dry bulk vessels (16%).
  14. The three most important U.S. airports that handle all cargo aircraft are Memphis (a hub for FedEx), Anchorage, and Louisville (a hub for UPS).
  15. Although only one-fourth of the distance traveled by all traffic is on the Interstate System, nearly one-half of combination-truck vehicle miles of travel are on Interstate highways.
  16. By 2040, long-haul freight truck traffic in the United States is expected to increase dramatically on the NHS. Forecast data indicate that truck travel may reach 460 million miles per day.
  17. In 2012, 5.1 million trucks hauled nearly 3.5 million loaded containers into the United States from Mexico.
  18. The freight transportation industry comprises 11.7% of America’s economic activity, as measured by gross domestic product.
  19. In 2011, for-hire transportation contributed $448 billion to the U.S. GDP, with for-hire trucking contributing the largest share (28%).
  20. There were approximately 2.72 million truck drivers in 2012; about 57% of these professionals drive heavy/tractor-trailer trucks, 28% drive light/delivery service trucks, and about 15% are driver/sales workers.


  • Federal Highway Administration Office of Freight Management and Operations
  • Bureau of Transportation Statistics Office of Transportation Analysis