April 1st, 2008 marked the first day of the Great American Truckers Strike. That was the day when the majority of Independent Truck Drivers were going to go on strike in protest of rising fuel costs.
It looked like they actually meant what they were saying they were going to do. While making my usual run through Harrisburg, PA, a group of truck drivers intentionally drove well below the posted speed limit on I-81 and I-83 through Harrisburg. They were going to the state capital to show Governor Rendell a thing or two.
The state and local police let them proceed to back up the two major interstates in the area for mile and miles, causing many delays for the morning commute. Upon arriving at the state capital, they drove around the building a few times, blowing their air horns. A few drivers even parked their rigs. These few truck drivers started a very peaceful demonstration, which lasted maybe an hour or two. They then started their rigs back up and left the area.
So, what was the main point of calling for a strike? High fuel prices are the culprit. Diesel has been over $4.00 a gallon for a few months now. Independent Truck Drivers have to pay for the fuel out of their own pocket. Yes, it is true that they are paid a fuel surcharge, but at the price of diesel, it does not cover the entire cost. JNE jtr tarif
The average tractor trailer, pulling the average load, gets between five and seven miles per gallon of fuel. That means it costs (just in terms of fuel) approximately 58 to 82 cents per mile, assuming an average fuel price of $4.12 which is the New England average, according to the Energy Information Agency. Now this cost per mile does not include maintenance, breakdowns, food, truck payments, insurance, taxes, or the myriad of other expenses that the independent truck driver must pay to operate his business. For example and oil change on an average tractor trailer costs $170 and must be done every couple months (the average truck travels 18,000 miles a month).
So, here we are, April 14th, 2008. It is two weeks after the start of the Great American Truckers Strike, and what do we have? We still have very high fuel prices. Why? Because the Independent Truck Driver cannot afford to park his truck on the side of the road for more than a day or two. He must keep driving to cover all of his expenses and still provide money for his family.
The big flaw with the strike was that the large companies did not join the strike. The OOIDA (Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association) did not endorse the strike. By law, the OOIDA is not allowed to endorse a strike, because they are a trade organization and a lobbying group.
The tractor trailers are still rolling across Americas highways. The drivers are still delivering the freight to the warehouses, factories, and stores. They are barely, if at all, making ends meet. The days of the Independent Truck Driver are truly limited because they are being forced out of business due to high operating costs and low freight rates.
Support your local truck driver. When you see him driving those long lonely miles, give him a smile and a wave. Drive with care, using your signals and give him a little extra room when you pass by his truck. He has already logged many more miles than you, and a little courtesy will only make his day better.