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The Truck Stops Here

The Price of Diesel Is Forcing Truckers Out of Business

This by-the-numbers look at diesel prices shows that truckers are being forced out of business by rising prices, and the cost is being driven home to consumers, too.

Dave Dellinger of Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania directs truckers to a truck drivers rally to protest high fuel prices at the Gables truck stop in Harrisburg, PA. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
Dave Dellinger of Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania directs truckers to a truck drivers rally to protest high fuel prices at the Gables truck stop in Harrisburg, PA. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Newspapers across the country are leading with coverage of new, record-breaking gas prices, which hit the $4 mark for the first time this weekend. Even more worrisome is the price of diesel, which in addition to squeezing the pockets of truck drivers across the country, is beginning to drive up the cost of all consumer goods transported by trucks, which in the United States is 70 percent. What’s more, 80 percent of communities receive all of their freight by truck, which means that these primarily rural areas, which are already hit the hardest by rising gas prices, will also be squeezed the most as prices of other consumer goods rise with the cost of diesel.

With 8.5 million Americans employed in the trucking industry, and an increasing number of truckers being forced out of business every quarter, it’s time that we find effective solutions to combat rising gas and diesel prices in the short term—such as the Center for American Progress’ proposed “reliefbate”—and make the system more efficient and sustainable in the long term.

The Cost of Diesel Is Rising Quickly

$2.80: Cost per gallon of diesel in the first week of June 2007.

$4.71: Cost per gallon of diesel in the first week of June 2008.

$1,200: Approximate cost to fill the fuel tank of a large commercial truck.

The Trucking Industry Sees Record-Breaking Costs

39 billion: Gallons of diesel fuel consumed by the trucking industry each year.

$141.5 billion: Estimated amount that the trucking industry will spend on diesel this year.

$112 billion: Amount that the trucking industry spent on diesel last year—$29 billion less than it will likely spend this year.

Rising Costs Are Forcing Truckers Out of Business

8.5 million: Number of Americans employed in the trucking industry.

306,000: Number of truckers who are self-employed and independent.

96 percent: Portion of motor carriers that operate 20 or fewer trucks.

935: Number of trucking companies that went out of business in the first quarter of 2008 alone. This is the highest number of failures in a quarter since the first quarter of 2001.

5: Number of consecutive quarters where the rate of trucking companies going out of business has increased.

Rising Diesel Costs Will Increase Prices for All Goods Transported by Truck

70 percent: Portion of the total freight tonnage that is moved around by truck.

80 percent: Portion of American communities that receive their goods exclusively by truck.

80 percent: Portion of retail food prices related to energy.

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