Trucker in ‘survival mode’ talks the talk with New York lawmakers

| 4/24/2008

Owner-operator Dale Stevens of Skaneateles, NY, said he has been in survival mode for months now as he struggles to keep up with skyrocketing fuel prices, which have topped $4.45 a gallon where he lives.

Stevens told Land Line on Wednesday, April 23, when another trucker – Charlie Claburn – asked him to call his lawmakers about the dire situation affecting independent truckers, he decided to find out how he could get involved in the process. Then he started calling other truckers he knows to ask them to call their lawmakers, as well.

“I have just been too busy trying to survive right now to really even sit down and think of a way to get out of this mess,” he said. “I have to voice my opinion if I want to be heard. I know other truckers are in the same position as me in just focusing in on our own problems, but all of us have family and friends that we need to call and ask them to call, too.”

Stevens hauls what he calls “auto fluff,” which he said is recycled plastic from cars, in and out of a landfill in Seneca County, NY, every day, which has created a lot of wear and tear on his truck. While his fuel costs have continued to rise, so have the costs for new tires and other repairs he regularly needs to keep his truck running.

He runs about 240 miles a day, making four trips in and out of the landfill. Stevens said he spends around $400 every other day on fuel.

“I called the mechanic that does all of my brake work and he said to ‘make sure and come in for work by May 1 because our costs are going up another 28 percent.’ ”

He said the landfill has been giving owner-operators a 3 percent to 5 percent increase periodically as fuel prices go up, but when fuel increases 200 percent, he said it’s hard to show a profit at the end of the week.

“My fuel bill has been running about $1,500 a week,” he said. “Right now, I have to decide which bills I am going to be able to pay.”

Following a roundtable discussion with truckers and several lawmakers in New York, including state Assemblymen George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, and Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie, on April 17, truckers and OOIDA members have been busy flooding their lawmakers’ phone lines.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer