Inflation impacts drive up diesel cost, creates problem for truckers

Published: April 12, 2022 2:03 PM EDT
Updated: April 13, 2022 7:43 PM EDT

Life is a highway, but not as many trucks are on the open road these days.

“As everything goes up our rates have to go up. They aren’t going up accordingly. Trucks are getting parked,” said Pete McKnight, a truck driver.

Pete McKnight has been behind the wheel of big rigs, driving across the U.S and Canada for 40 years. He tells me lots of businesses out there aren’t willing to pay him what he’s worth.

“My rate is based on per mile and for me to bring it to where I got to get it from to here, my fuel has to be taken into consideration, my insurance, my license for each state that I go through, fuel taxes for each state that I go through and at the end of the day, my wage has to be taken into consideration,” said McKnight.

The rising cost of diesel fuel is a huge factor. The average price for a gallon of diesel in Florida is just over $5, according to AAA last year.

McKnight’s rate to bring goods across the two countries has to go up too. Those high prices don’t just affect the ones on 18-wheels.

“At the end of the day, everybody is going to suffer over this,” said McKnight.

According to the American Trucking Association, more than 70% of freight is transported by trucks. Their rising rates mean it costs more for your food to get to the store.

This then means you’ll pay more at checkout too.

Victor Claar Ph.D., an Economist at Florida Gulf Coast University, says less regulation could help truckers, the trucking industry, and in turn your wallet.

“Most businesses that need trucking in the United States are constrained to using only U.S.-approved drivers and U.S.-approved freight lines. And if we were allowed to use other substitutes, it would drive down the costs for everybody,” said Claar.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to dollars and cents and profit. If I can’t make a profit, I can’t run that truck,” said McKnight.

The American Trucking Association also says the U.S. is short more than 80,000 truckers, that number could grow to more than 160,000 by 2030. To try to put more truckers on the road, Walmart announced it will pay drivers up to $110,000 in their first year.