Trucking issues, fuel prices dominate headlines

| 4/1/2008

Trucking issues took center stage on Tuesday, April 1, as mainstream media reported on fuel protests and shutdowns being staged by truckers around the country.

Major news networks, small-town newspapers, public radio stations and blogging Web sites flowed with stories focusing on truckers who are trying to cope with high fuel costs coupled with low freight rates. Hundreds of news stories focused on shutdowns, slowdowns or convoys.

An independent trucker credited with being an organizer of the April 1 shutdown is Dan Little, a cattle hauler from Carrollton, MO.

“My goal was not to shut this country down. My goal was to get this out to the public and the mainstream media,” Little told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio.

“In that sense, I think we were 100-percent successful.”

The positive attention being paid to trucking issues is welcome news, according to leaders at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston said while the reality of every trucker shutting down is unlikely, the news and the talk being generated are significant.

“It’s great that it’s getting the attention of the mainstream media, who then report it to the public,” Johnston told Land Line. “That’s really the key to getting the public to realize it’s not just a trucker issue.”

While estimates of truckers participating in protests have been difficult to nail down on a national scale, the news barometer shows truckers – dozens or hundreds in some individual locations – did shut down or “parked it” for a while on Tuesday.

Jere Gish, a news reporter for KMBC-TV Channel 9 News, an ABC affiliate in Kansas City, MO, arrived at OOIDA headquarters midday along with a cameraman to do a story about fuel prices and protests.

Reasons for mainstream interest in trucker issues, he said, have become clear.

“We’ve been doing stories on high gas prices for a while,” Gish told Land Line. “High cost of fuel affects everyone. We are all getting pinched. We are understanding if it affects truckers, it affects everyone. Maybe we should have realized that a long time ago.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer

Managing Editor Sandi Soendker and Staff Writer Reed Black contributed to this report.