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Rising Diesel Prices Could Mean Trucker, Supply Chain Shortage

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A line up of heavy duty trucks under a cloudy sky.

Photo: George Rose/Getty Images (Getty Images)

If you pay attention to the news – transportation news in particular – then you’ve doubtless heard about the massive “shortage of truckers” that we’re experiencing in America and all the doom and gloom about the knock-on effects that this shortage will cause if it continues.

Well, firstly, the idea that there’s a trucker “shortage” is bullshit because the industry is set up in an incredibly exploitative and untenable way, making it nigh-impossible to earn a decent living without killing yourself (or someone else), but if that’s not bad enough, soaring diesel prices are here to make everything way worse.

According to a report published on KRCG 13 news, the looming diesel shortage is causing fuel prices to skyrocket, which, when you are an owner/operator paying for your own fuel, puts a significant strain on already tenuous finances.

Why The Trucking Industry Is So Fragmented And Chaotic

How bad is the price situation right now? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the national average price of diesel is over $1.60 higher than it was at this time in 2021. That would be bad enough for someone in a passenger car, but it’s catastrophic when you’re driving an 18-wheeler thousands of miles a week.

The extremely low diesel reserves stem from a few different factors. The ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia is playing havoc on production, plus this time of year is typically when refineries undergo maintenance on their production equipment. The situation with trucking started a lot earlier – specifically, in 1980, with the introduction of the Motor Carrier Act, which deregulated the industry.

How Truck Driving Became One Of The Worst Jobs In The US

Before 1980, the trucking industry was heavily unionized, and pricing for carriers was generally based on industry-wide fixed rates. The Motor Carrier Act encouraged trucking companies to set their own rates, which started a race to the bottom. This was further fueled by a proliferation of new, non-union trucking companies. Without the union behind them, truckers saw their pay and their quality of life erode until we arrive at the present day.

In short, friends, the truckers are fucked.

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