Soaring fuel costs, shrinking bottom lines force tough choices on truckers

| 4/1/2008

While many drivers parked their rigs on Tuesday, April 1, to protest record-high fuel prices, others made the business decision to keep their wheels turning.

In recent days, OOIDA and Land Line Magazine have received countless phone calls, e-mails and letters regarding the issue of whether or not a shutdown would be effective, but with diesel fuel prices hovering near the $4 mark or above in many parts of the country, many agree something must be done soon to relieve their pain at the pumps or they may lose their businesses.

Tom Holsapple from Rhinebeck, NY, is shutting down today. He said he is supporting the protest as a trucker and a “concerned citizen.” He said he believes the “economy is being destroyed by greedy oil companies” and wants to know why elected officials allow it to happen.

Douglas Hammontree, an OOIDA member from Hiram, GA, owns Three Tree’s Logistics. He made the decision today to shut down his four trucks for a few days.

“I shut my trucks down in honor of this strike,” he said.

OOIDA member Alice Cummins, who runs Northern Light of Paw Paw, located in Paw Paw, MI, said she isn’t shutting down, but instead drove at 55 mph in solidarity of the national trucker effort.

OOIDA member Jim Gossett of Chapel Hill, NC, told Land Line on Friday, March 28, he planned to park his rig at home for a while after delivering his load on Monday, March 31. He said he will do this until economic conditions in the trucking industry improve.

“If it’s not going to pay the bills, I can just as easy go broke at home,” Gossett said.

Some members have made the decision to keep trucking because they just can’t afford to park their rigs right now. Others disagree that a shutdown is the right answer to combat high fuel prices.

Craig Hansen of High Ridge, MO, told Land Line on April 1 that he wasn’t participating in the shutdown, but wasn’t driving his semi today either because he was escorting an oversized load with his pickup truck.

OOIDA members Carol and Steve Edwards of Siloam Springs, AR, have five trucks. She said none of their trucks were participating in the shutdown.

“We have one truck that is in the shop with mechanical problems, but everybody else is rolling today,” she said.

OOIDA member Wade LaLone of Rosebush, MI, wrote in a letter to Land Line that he wouldn’t be participating in the shutdown, either.

“Shutting down will only upset your shippers and they will find new carriers and you will possibly lose that freight,” he wrote.

Rev. Bob Celeste of Harrison, ME, isn’t a trucker, but he has parked his 1990 Dodge pickup truck, which has a Cummins diesel engine, in support of truckers who shut down their trucks on April 1.

“Although by trucking standards, my truck is small and doesn’t use a lot of fuel, I will park it on the days that those who park their big rigs,” he said. “If we don’t side with the guys who bring us our food now, we will all be in worse trouble later.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer