Diesel prices spur trucker to turn down loads, call lawmakers

Discussion in 'Commerical Transportation' started by xcel, Apr 8, 2008.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    “I could have taken the load – it was mine if I wanted it – but I told the broker they could choke on it.”

    [xfloat=right]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/18-wheeler_s_idling_away.gif[/xfloat]Clarissa Kell-Holland – Landline - April 7, 2008

    Trucker’s idling at a nearby Rest Stop.

    When the supply of truckers willing to haul for losses dries up, freight prices will rise. The question is when will these guys get smart and drive smarter? -- Ed.

    Frustrated with soaring diesel fuel prices and low freight rates, OOIDA member Matt Shelley of Rogers City, MI, shut down his truck and started making phone calls to his lawmakers this past week.

    While he didn’t actually get through to any of them, Shelley said he’s not giving up on getting his voice heard.

    “I can help a little by making another voice heard,” he told Land Line on April 3. “I did this for a reason, to stand up for everybody that ain’t big enough to do it.”

    Shelley said he’s at his break-even point, but he knows some are a lot worse off than he is.

    “I have very good friends that are losing their houses, losing their trucks, and they have nothing else to go to because trucking is all they know how to do,” he said. “Everybody around here is a truck driver, works in the woods or farms, and they’re all feeling the squeeze because of high fuel prices. They just don’t know what to do anymore.”

    In the 10 minutes it took him to drive home and then head back to town for an item he forgot to pick up, Shelley said the price for a gallon of diesel went up 10 cents to $4.29.

    “Who knows what it’s going to be tomorrow,” he said.

    Shelley, a flatbedder, has been a truck driver since 1996. He just recently gave up his dedicated run hauling military freight after his fuel surcharge was capped at 32 cents a mile, while the cost for a gallon of fuel skyrocketed more than 72 cents during the same time period… [rm]http://www.landlinemag.com/todays_news/Daily/2008/Apr08/040708/040708-02.htm[/rm]
  2. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    What is making phone calls going to do? THEY can't just legislate away the problem, even if they wanted to. There's a crisis, and we all need to be doing something.
  3. toastblows

    toastblows Well-Known Member

    I think motel 6 is $29.99 a night in po dunk areas...and you can use it for up to 24 hours dude. Instead of burning 1/gal hr @$4.29 to keep warm...or freezing to death....just a suggestion.:Banane37:
  4. Euroford

    Euroford Well-Known Member

    As a drive to and from work along I-95 each day at 55mph, and am passed by numerous big rigs running at or above the posted speed limit, I think to myself "I wonder how much fuel they could save if they all kept their speed down, and as a result, how much more money could they bring home and how much money would it save me in all my purchases".

    It isn't rocket science, if they slowed down to 50mph or so, instead of running at 75mph not only would all the above savings occur, but they would have a side benefit of less wear on their truck.

    Great suggestion by Toastblows too. Whats the deal with all parked trucks keeping their engines running? Anyone....?

  5. dwschoon

    dwschoon Active Member

    Since I found this site a month ago, I have been trying really hard to keep my speed way down. Ive driven a lot of highway miles for work recently, and have yet to come across 1 semi what wasn't running faster than me(50-60mph). This includes areas where the speed limit is 60mph, as well as 70-75mph areas. By the way all the trucks pass me, they are all doing the limit or more here in Oklahoma. I would like to try some side and distance drafting, but I think any gains will be negated by me having to increase my speed by 20mph to do it.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2008
  6. toastblows

    toastblows Well-Known Member

    Its becoming clear around my area who the independent truckers are, whose truck has a limiter on, and who isnt paying for their diesel. The right and left lanes are both clogged with trucks at rush hour, yet there is a 15-20mph difference between the two.

    human nature, if you dont pay for it, then why slow down.
  7. I know i had an appointment in another town from where i live and was doing 60 in a 65/55 speed zone. As the weather was a bit nasty at the time. And i have many semi's drive past me speeding when they are too be doing no more then 55 tops.
  8. 2008Mazda3i

    2008Mazda3i Well-Known Member

    I hear all these truckers talking about company truckers having limiters but I can't see how, every day I see them running up and down I-20 which is a speed limit of 65 at 70-75 if not more. Hell the other day I almost had a Fed-Ex truck clip me chaning lanes when I was running 60 in the Far Right Lane :eek:
  9. swoon

    swoon Well-Known Member

    I heard a tiny amount of a program on this issue this morning on the local NPR affiliate. The guest was saying that some truckers are taking jobs without surcharges just for the cashflow so they could pay the truck loan or rent, etc. These particular truckers are actually losing money by taking the job just to get the cash so they are on a downward spiral.

    Supply and demand will take care of this problem and eventually we'll all be paying more for trucked goods. Unfortunately, some people are going to lose their jobs (hopefully the ones that drive the fastest).
  10. Ptero

    Ptero Hydrogen Nut, Battery Skeptic

    Independent truckers are always paid by the mile. They have to drive long and hard in a competitive market. They just hit the wall. Independent trucking is dead. Lots of cheap trucks for sale everywhere.

    Corporate truckers can slow down. They're paid by the hour. All the independents will be trying to get jobs with them. That would bring wages down if it wasn't for the union.

    Lower speed limits are coming. But nobody will obey them.
  11. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    I wonder what the roadways will look like in 20yrs? Will we have largely transitioned goods traffic back to the railway? Will the road surfaces be different because we lack the oil to create asphalt? Will telecommuting be the norm?

    Interesting to think about...
  12. ellendanis

    ellendanis Active Member

    I am an Auto Transport Broker - most of our guys have to stay with the truck for their cargo insurance to be valid.

    My company is one of the best paying (if not THE best) for our industry. I've been slowly increasing truck rates over the last 6 months. But, now it's at a point that my rates to my customers are causing me to lose some business! The customer then goes with a company charging less - that is paying truckers less. Truckers would rather take a load for $500 than have an empy spot. What's a girl to do?
  13. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Ellen:

    ___I am very interested in the dynamics of your business. If another broker can put a driver and freight into a distribution facility for less, you will have to find their edge and take advantage of it too. I just do not see driver’s hunting for a loss to much longer irregardless of their cash flow situation. They either make a profit or they do not pay the mortgage and electric bill, let alone the truck payment?

    ___I am wondering how the brokers are dealing with it as a group? If you cannot get a driver to take the load for such and such, you tell the distribution facility it will cost xxx$’s or it doesn’t arrive, correct? Eventually the fuel surcharges (raises) get paid to the O/O’s or they don’t deliver I would think?

    ___Thanks in advance.

  14. hobbit

    hobbit He who posts articles

    I was tracking the leadup to the supposed "strike" last week,
    which sounded a lot more vocal than it wound up being in
    reality. The O/O truckers just by themselves are too disorganized,
    and none of the company drivers were on board, but the main
    thing I saw them going wrong on was wanting cheaper fuel. I
    even tried to point out here and there that the fuel isn't GOING
    to get cheaper, long term, and what they really need to be
    telling the public is to get ready for those high surcharges
    and longer delivery times at lower speeds. Evidently greedy
    load brokers are one of the chief impediments to the fuel charge
    getting into the right hands [i.e. those that originally paid
    to fill the truck].
    They also seemed rather concerned that if things got too bad,
    all the truckers wouldn't be able to make a living and the Mexicans
    coming in would take all the jobs for 13 cents a mile or something.
    Frankly, getting paid by the mile is one of the stupidest models
    since it just encourages speeding. Maybe if more of them got
    paid by the hour, they WOULD slow down and make a nice leisurely
    trip out of it!
  15. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Al:

    ___Everything you said is 100% dead on as far as I am concerned other than the ¢/mile. Fuel costs take a larger percentage of their income then their salary so they either adapt or die. Traveling at 60 mph yields an at best average speed of 50 mph actual from turn of the key to turn of the key and with the truck pulling all of 5.5 mpg, diesel at $4.00 per is costing over $36/hour. Unless the drivers are pulling in $72K per year considering a 2,000 hour year which I doubt, diesel costs a lot more per mile than they can earn in the same …

    ___Good Luck

  16. 98CRV

    98CRV Well-Known Member

    I'd like to hear from truckers about why they struggle. Those of us who are non-truckers and don't walk in their shoes don't really know why they do what they do. What looks like idiocy from the outside may not in fact be so idiotic.
  17. Elixer

    Elixer Well-Known Member

    The economics suck, and the problem is that the whole industry is going to have to move at once to really make any difference. I see the problem as the following:

    a) gas prices are high and aren't going to go lower
    b) truckers don't know how to save gas while traveling - I haven't seen 55mph truckers out there, and I'm sure there are a lot of independent truckers out there that could be driving at that speed
    c) truckers are unwilling to find other professions - I'm sorry to say, but when economics get hard, and especially when transportation costs go up, companies cut back on transportation, and get more effecient at it (ie fewer larger loads), therefore the demand for truckers drop, and so do the prices they receive for loads
    d) the market hasn't had enough time to adjust for the above factors

    There is such a big hole for a truck designed with really good aerodynamics and low rolling resistance. Hybridization won't help that much as they don't do much in town traveling, but there are big gains that could be made in the aero department.
  18. kngkeith

    kngkeith Well-Known Member

    Wayne- maybe Ellen and I could do a logistics/transportation "clinic" for you:D. As a broker she is facing the same issue truckers are- simply more capacity than demand right now. There are an overwhelming number of independents and small companies that are taking anything just to make payments or keep their drivers busy. At some point the cash, savings, and equity has to run out. Independents and small companies usually don't prebuy fuel. Sometimes I wonder if the large carriers hedged lots of fuel when they saw prices on the rise, and are able to run on the inadequate rates because of it.

    As to why truckers do what they do. It is a way of life, not just a job, similar to other jobs that require long periods away from home. It is a culture with its own language. The only live contact with people is other drivers, warehouse workers, and truckstop personnel. There is NO social life. The job becomes the identity- and the driver adopts the behaviors that go with it.

    A driver can typically log about 5-10 mph under the average speed limit without getting in trouble with law enforcement or company safety depts. An 11 hour day can net about 650 miles. A driver that stays at 55 mph nets about 550 miles. No problem if the load is a 550 mile linehaul. But if the load is 625 miles, and the unload takes 3 hrs, and there is a 100 mile deadhead to get the return load, which takes 2 hrs to load...The time keeps adding up. If a typical OTR driver does 2800 miles per week, he can drive for 47 hours averaging 60 mph, or 56 hours averaging 50 mph. That's a whole work day difference.

    The business and culture (driver income, return on fixed costs, etc, etc) is based on that 2500-3000 mile/week mark. Like others have mentioned, a lot needs to change. But imagine if trucks could only do 2000 miles a week, how many more trucks on the highway to do the same amount of work? As for railroads, still just unit trains and long distance freight. Find a railroad map, the infrastructure is no longer there.

  19. hobbit

    hobbit He who posts articles

  20. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Keith:

    ___I am only seeing it in black and white unfortunately and with fuel consumption costing more than what a driver earns, slowing down is the only way to make the trucking way of life profitable let alone sustainable from my perspective. Even piling on more charges to cover the fuel, the slower and more efficient driver will be rewarded while the un-fuel efficient one will not as diesel climbs even higher.

    ___The WalMart’s, UPS and FedEx corporations already realize that at some point, the 55 mph driver/tractor/trailer rig is worth more to the bottom line than the 65 mph driver/tractor/trailer rig due to fuel costs alone. I see this with WalMart and UPS drivers locally already and it is those entities that will soon take over the freight business with the bottom line savings while the accelerator be damned drivers continue to lose their trucks due to poor business conditions and driving habits. The corporate drivers are still making $’s of course and if the larger trucking firms are receiving higher income for a given truckload of freight, than it should only be a matter of time before the O/O’s find the same or the freight doesn’t move.

    ___Help me out with the financing and maintenance side of that equation because a 55 mph OTR rig should last longer and cost less than the 65 mph one but there is a carrying cost of the tractor and trailer being on the road for a longer period that has to cost real $’s and I cannot get my head around that just yet?

    ___Good Luck


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