NAFTA truck freight remains strong in May

July 25, 2018

Tyson Fisher


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in May trucks moved more than 63 percent of NAFTA freight – with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest. All five modes experienced an increase in freight year-to-year.

The value of freight hauled across the borders increased by 4.4 percent compared with April, when freight decreased by 3 percent from the previous month. Compared to May 2017, freight was up more than 9 percent. This marks the 19th consecutive month of year-to-year increases.

March 2017 had the largest month-to-month increase (16 percent) since March 2011, when NAFTA freight was up more than 22 percent compared to February 2011. NAFTA freight declined by nearly 11 percent in July 2017, the largest decline for the year.

In March 2017, the index reached more than $100 billion for the first time since October 2014 before going back below that mark in April. That landmark was revisited in October and maintained through November before dipping below the $100 billion mark again in December. March marked the first month in 2018 to reach beyond $100 million, which has been maintained through at least May so far.

Truck NAFTA value by state compared to April. Blue states denote an increase, while orange states denote a decrease. (Courtesy of Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

Trucks carried nearly $68 billion of the more than $107 billion of imports and exports in May.

Year-to-year, Canada truck freight increased by 4.5 percent and Mexico freight rose by 13 percent. Top truck commodities were computers and parts, motor vehicles and parts, electrical machinery, plastics, and measuring/testing instruments.

Freight totaled $107.25 billion, up more than $4 billion from the previous month and an increase of more than $9 billion from May 2017.

Vessel freight accounted for the largest increase at 29.6 percent after an increase of 35 percent in April. Trucks accounted for an increase of 9 percent, the third largest increase behind a 13.4 percent increase in pipeline freight. Truck freight experienced increases of 15.3 percent in April and 4.1 percent in March.

More than 56 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 16 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went up by nearly 11 percent compared with May 2017. Of the $52.127 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried 71 percent of the loads.


Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.