Between invasions overseas, pandemics, and constant conversation about ecological sustainability, fuel prices seem to be going nowhere but up. For those of us in the trucking industry, this carries several complex ramifications. Here’s what rising fuel prices mean for the trucking industry this year.
As of this month, diesel prices in the U.S. average roughly $4.24 per gallon, which is down about a dollar from a year ago. With this price drop easing the load a small bit, the volatility of prices still makes providing an accurate quote difficult. A 120-gallon gas tank would still cost over $500 to fill up according to the national average. Each dollar spent on gas is a dollar out of profits. Truckers and companies are having to get creative to cut costs. In an Insider article, one trucker reported turning off his truck and rolling down windows during summer nights to conserve fuel.
In that same Insider article, an owner of a small Maryland carrier reported accepting jobs at a loss to retain his truckers. He reported that keeping his truckers busy was more important than taking a job at a loss. With the national trucker shortage still hovering at a deficit of 80,000, carriers must find ways to retain truckers at all costs. Other fleets may be required to turn down jobs because the numbers simply don’t line up. After a record number of new trucking companies in 2021, the big shifts in fuel prices may push out younger proprietors.
With the added financial stress at the gas pump, many truckers must work overtime to meet their usual financial requirements. This rings true for local carriers especially. With this added driving and financial stress, many truckers simply will not be able to sustain this routine for very long. Figuring out practices to avoid burnout and trimming the financial fat while retaining valuable truckers proves to be a difficult challenge for many in the logistics industry.
The trucking business currently faces many challenges. With rising fuel costs, labor shortages, and demand for freight higher than ever, the logistics industry will need to find a solution somewhere to avoid collapse.
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