Truck Drivers Deal With High Diesel Prices

Tuesday, March 25th 2008, 5:53 pm
By: News On 6

Diesel prices are sky high. Tuesday's selling price is just a penny lower than a new record, which was set over the weekend. A gallon of diesel now averages $4.02 a gallon. News On 6 Anchor, Craig Day reports the staggering costs have trucking companies doing what they can to save on fuel.

When fuel costs get high, most of us cut back on any unnecessary driving to save money. Truck drivers who have to hit the road, are trying to find ways to save as diesel costs hit their bottom line.

John Christner has 650 trucks on the road nationwide. All those trucks add up to a lot of diesel.

"What blows my mind is to hear of drivers that went to fill up and their fuel bill was $1,100, where we used to think that about $400 or $500 was a big number to fill up a truck," said Danny Christner with John Christner Trucking.

With the price of diesel around record territory, trucking companies are looking for ways to save. For starters, John Christner Trucking has governors on their trucks that limit speed to 72 mph.

"When you start out with kind of a base average of six miles per gallon for a class A tractor-trailer rig, you can tell real quick that slowing the trucks down equals a lot of fuel savings," said Christner.

The company has also added auxiliary power units to 70% of its fleet. The units power things like heating and air in the cab, instead of the truck idling.

"The diesel engine on a truck, that actually powers the truck, burns about a gallon per hour when it is idling. Versus an auxiliary power unit, you can get down to a tenth of a gallon or two tenths of a gallon," said Christner.

With a large fleet, a fraction of savings per gallon on diesel adds up.

The price of diesel has gone up $1.25 per gallon over a year ago. For a company the size of Christner Trucking, that means an increase in fuel costs of $40,000, every single day.

With so much at stake, companies are forced to rethink ways of doing things, and make decisions that really impact the bottom line.

Most trucking companies have to pass on the high cost of diesel through fuel surcharges that fluctuate each week based on the price of fuel and department of energy statistics.

Christner also predicts if the price of diesel remains high, freight rates will have to go up.