Fed up
In the U.S., the desperation level of America's independent truckers is escalating along with the cost of fuel.

by Sandi Soendker and Ruth Jones
Staff writer Keith Goble also contributed to this article

John and Debra Mordus of Shelby Township, MI, say the cost of fuel is devastating. Heather and Roger Hogeland of Fontana, CA, say the price of fuel is killing them. Jim and Edie Ford of Columbus, OH, say they'll soon be out of business. And they mean it.

"How would our forefathers look at us today and what do you think they would say?" says Dean Crombie, Fresno, CA. "Don't we have any backbone?" Crombie is a third generation truckdriver and it is a profession in which he personally needs to have pride. His father has been trucking for 36 years, his mom and brother drive trucks plus all four uncles. Crombie, fed up from taking a beating from the cost of CARB fuel, can't understand why American truckers have waited so long to stand up and be counted, as truckers have in Europe.

Bruce Taylor, owner-operator from New Hampshire and long-time member, says the real shame of such a state of affairs is that it could cause the transportation industry to lose its best, most professional and most skilled drivers. "And for the safety of everybody who travels on the interstate, we can't lose them," says Taylor. "Who is going to replace us? Bums, that's who. Nobody with any smarts will have any part of this business unless a lot of things change. Try to get your fatalities down 50 percent then."

Other truckers, like OOIDA member Billy L. Miller of Ozark, MO, feels the same as the others, but Miller isn't ready to throw in the towel. Recently, he contacted his state representative Tim Kreider about the impact of higher fuel prices on his trucking business. As a result, Miller was invited to attend a meeting in the state capitol of a joint interim committee on fuel prices headed by Rep. Bill Ransdale. The meeting took place in September while the legislature met for a veto session and was attended by lawmakers, representatives of the trucking industry, soybean and corn growers, petroleum marketers, and other interested parties. Miller says he talked to the committee about fuel prices that are likely to hit $2.50 a gallon this winter and the ripple effect of truckers going out of business, repo'ed vehicles depressing used truck prices and companies who finance trucks suffering severe losses.

Miller isn't sure what the outcome, if any, will be of his trip to Jefferson City, but he says "they listened and they took notes. They're limited to what they can do on a state level, but I know they can make calls to people who can do something."

Europe wrap up

At press time, a fuel crisis has swept Europe, creating traffic chaos and panic buying as truckdrivers, taxi drivers and farmers protest soaring fuel costs by blocking roads.

In Britain, truckdrivers, taxi drivers and others angry over high fuel prices and taxes blockaded fuel stations for days, creating shortages that set off panic buying and kept vehicles off roads. In Belgium, truckers continue to block depots and highways across the country. In Germany, farmers have pledged to support protests by truckdrivers and taxi drivers around the country against rising prices. In Ireland, truckers have announced they would blockade ports and oil depots. In Italy, truckdrivers and taxi drivers are planning to meet with officials to discuss soaring fuel prices. In the Netherlands, Dutch truckers continue to protest for lower fuel taxes, blocking several main routes. Police have indicated "measures will have to be taken" if protests continue. In France most truck blockades were cleared as of Sept. 10, but only after the government conceded fuel tax cuts to protesters. Drivers, still apprehensive of further protests, continue to line up at the pumps.