Rising diesel prices driving truckers crazy

Posted at 11:32 PM, Mar 09, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-10 00:12:44-05

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- You’ll find plenty of independent truckers gritting their teeth as the price for diesel fuel continues to climb. It’s almost a quarter more than this time last year and has been steadily climbing in recent weeks, now over $4 a gallon.

And it’s about 50 cents more per gallon than gas, because of extra refining for pollution control and demand overseas.

“It’s horrible right now,” said Wayne Griffin, an independent trucker out of Atlanta, as he fueled up at the Travel Center truck stop in on Lewistown Road in Hanover County.  “Right now it’s averaging right around $4.25” a gallon across the East Coast.

Another independent trucker who had been in the business for 30 years said, “It’s the worst it’s ever been.”

The high price of transport fuel is It’s adding to the cost of everything we consume. And it’s driving these drivers crazy.

At one time, being a trucker was a good, middle-class job. You could afford a decent truck and a college education for your children if you put the miles in.

“Now, we’re barely surviving out here,” Griffin said. “I don’t know what middle class is any more. I’m among the poor.”

Back in the late ‘70s, truckers were getting a dollar a mile and paying 80 cents a gallon for fuel. Now they’re lucky to get $1.05 a mile and it’s costing them 80 cents a mile for fuel.

Even though fuel costs are rising, the pay per mile has remained flat.

Big trucking firms can lock fuel prices in based on long-term, high-volume consumption, Griffin explained. The independent owner-operators are taking it on the chin, paying pump prices. They can have $2,000 or $3,000 a month rig payments, $500 a month insurance payments, $300 to $500 for a single tire replacement, increased control and scrutiny by highway safety policies,  and now, rising fuel prices.

“We’re getting squeezed everywhere you turn around out here,” Griffin said. “They’re trying to put the small companies like me out of business.”

And there doesn’t seem to be any relief as these truckers look down the road.