Truckers want relief from punishing fuel prices as Senate debates issue

| 7/30/2008

As U.S. senators on both sides of the aisle debate whether expanded drilling is the answer to the ongoing energy crisis in this country, truckers, who are being punished by high diesel prices, just want relief at the pump – and soon.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, along with other GOP senators, as well as an owner-operator and a trucking company owner, participated in a press conference on Wednesday, July 30, in the Upper Senate Park in Washington, DC. The reason for the event was to discuss the “effect that gas prices have on the cost of transporting goods.”

David Solan of OOIDA’s Washington, DC, office, attended the event. He said a red truck with the slogan, “Find more, use less,” served as the back drop for speakers.

“Several GOP senators drove home their core message that the price of fuel is the number one issue facing regular Americans today, advocating their belief that expanded drilling is the solution,” Solan told Land Line shortly after the media event.

Barbara Windsor, president and CEO of Hahn Transportation Inc., headquartered in New Market, MD, spoke about how high fuel prices are affecting her family-owned trucking company.

“Diesel fuel prices are hurting us and driving up the costs of all of these consumer goods – it costs approximately $1,400 to fuel up a truck,” she said.

She said her company is spending at least 58 percent more on fuel than they did one year ago.

“If this continues, by the end of the year, we will expend at least $1 million more on fuel than was budgeted,” she said. “We are a small family business and this is truly critical to our industry.”

Tony Sifford, a trucking veteran with more than 14 years and more than 1.8 million safe driving miles, also spoke about the dire situation truckers are facing to stay in business because of high fuel prices.

“I am a third-generation truck driver and I have to be honest, I have never seen diesel prices as high as they are now,” he said.

He told the Republican senators that diesel was selling for $4.71 a gallon when he checked on Tuesday, July 30. During this same time period in 2007, Sifford said diesel was selling for $2.80 a gallon.

Sifford said he drives a regular route from Hillsville, VA, to Dallas, TX, three times a week. He said his fuel costs have gone up significantly this year, from $1,680 a year ago to fill up his tank for one trip, to $2,826 a gallon this week for the same run.

“The high cost of diesel is cutting into our already tight margins,” he said. “I have had a number of friends go out of business, and if the price of diesel keeps rising, I know a lot of other drivers that will go out of business as well.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer