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Nebraska truck drivers fear higher diesel prices: 'Every day it's more expensive'

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 19:13:30-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — While most of our cars might not run on diesel fuel, it does fuel our economy; diesel trucks carry livestock and goods from other places, but the skyrocketing prices are puzzling leaders like the Nebraska Trucking Association President Kent Grisham.

"Every day it's more expensive, every day we're hitting record prices. It's hard to imagine how a year from now we're gonna be able to move freight when no one can really house a guess to how expensive it's going to be," Grisham said.

Grisham fears that the smaller operators are reaching a point where they can't operate due to increasing fuel prices.

"That would be a horrible addition to our overall supply chain crisis and our worsening economy. We don't have enough truck drivers and we don't have enough trucks right now to handle the freight that's out there needing to be moved," he said.

Robert Sauer is the general manager of Hill Brothers Transportation, which works closely with supermarket chains. Sauer admits high diesel prices are leading to difficult conversations with customers.

"We might say, 'Hey, we need to recover, increase your price 10 cents per mile,' something like that. If they've already experienced — because of the fuel increase, a 50 cent increase — that just in a lot of ways, that automatically happens the way that pricing is set up, that really is a hard pill for them to swallow," Sauer said.

Last year, AAA reports diesel fuel was about $3.20 a gallon, now it's $5.72. Those in the industry say this is unprecedented.

Truck drivers like Bradley Potter say driving patterns are changing.

"A lot of them have slowed way down. There's even a couple of them that run 55 (miles per hour) just to keep the fuel, cause it's just so ridiculous," Potter said.

"They also get more restrictive, if you will, on the routes they drive. They'll start to pick and choose — which truck will go to which location with which load — in ways that reflect the cost of fuel," Grisham said.

With these measures taken to save a buck, drivers like Potter say it's creating a ripple effect.

"It's hurting the family because we're not making the money. Now there's things we're used to doing, we can't do anymore," Potter said.

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