$4 diesel has small business truckers dipping into reserves

| 3/11/2008

The news that the price for a gallon of diesel fuel is soaring above $4 in some parts of the country forecasts a dire situation for truck drivers. Some truckers have had to dip into their reserves to help cover their daily operating costs, while others, without the luxury of having any reserves, are barely hanging on.

OOIDA member and produce hauler DuWayne Marshall of Watertown, WI, told Land Line on Tuesday, March 11, he’s “pretty nervous” about the increasing fuel prices – he’s seeing it out in California now, where the price was $4.05 a gallon in Hesperia.

Marshall hauls for one grocer and said he is fortunate that his customer understands the reality that he has to pass along some of his fuel costs by increasing his fuel surcharge.

“But I wonder, at some point, if there is going to be a time when the consumer at the grocery store is not going to be able to afford to pay for the produce I am delivering,” Marshall said.

Marshall said the increase in diesel fuel has him dipping into his reserves he had earmarked for other things, but instead is using to pay for fuel.

When fueling up in Wisconsin a few days ago in preparation for his trip out to California, Marshall said he paid more than $960 for about 245 gallons of fuel. Times have really changed, he said.

“About 10 years ago, $800 would have paid for my fuel and my meal money to make the trip from Wisconsin to California,” he said. “Now that doesn’t even cover my fuel cost just to get out there.”

He said he has heard from some drivers who don’t have the financial reserves to help them survive the increasing fuel costs that have left truck drivers stunned in recent months.

OOIDA member Lowell Jones, from Opp, AL, who owns a small auto transport business, said in an e-mail to Land Line that he “is about broke from the high fuel prices.”

“It is a terrible situation – I really don’t know what to do,” he said.

ProMiles is reporting today that the average diesel fuel prices are averaging more than $4 a gallon in five northeastern states, including Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer