The trucking industry is feeling the pinch with rising gas prices leading some companies to make changes to how they run their daily operations.
As of June 2, the average gas price in Texas is now $4.34 per gallon. For diesel, though, that number is $5.07, according to AAA.
Andy Felker is a trucker who travels across the United States and Canada. He makes his home in North Texas, but said he is on the road most of the time.
“This is a job that needs to be done. It needs smart people. It needs reliable people. I want to be a part of that,” he told WFAA.
Billy Mason is a local driver. He does not leave North Texas, and most of his trips are completed in a single day.
He spoke about why he wanted to be a trucker.
“I wanted to get out over the road,” Mason said. “Do things. Get out of the office.”
Despite the differences in their job descriptions, both men feel the pressure at the pumps.
Felker and Mason are independent contractors for Dallas-based Summit Trucking. Founded in 1997, the company has approximately 200 trucks and 500 trailers.
On a typical day, Summit may have 150 trucks on the road.
CEO Bart Plaskoff said customers pay a fuel surcharge to help offset the cost of diesel. As fuel prices increase, he says this fee is also going up since it is related to those fuel costs.
“It’s definitely cut into our profit,” Plaskoff said. “The cost of everything we purchase has gone up over the past two years. Tires, trailers, trucks, insurance, fuel. Across the board, everything is up. And unfortunately, we’re having to pass that onto the consumer.”
Summit has pre-existing relationships with some Texas truck stops and gas stations. Plaskoff said he is trying to help smaller truckers also get the deal.
Without the special discounts, Plaskoff says fuel prices for the company would be $85,000 higher than this time last year.
Many of the state’s 753,150 drivers have found that gas increases are cutting into their expected wages. In many cases, pay rates assume a set gas price, according to The Texas Trucking Association.
“One of the highest costs that anybody in trucking is looking at is labor, one or fuel,” John Esparza, president of Texas Trucking Association, said. “Depending on where we are in the economy, one can easily surpass the other.”
Diesel fuel is one of the most important factors in the world economy, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In addition to trucks, diesel is vital for construction and farming equipment, trains, and military vehicle.
In 2020, the U.S. transportation sector used about 45 billion gallons of diesel, or about 122 gallons per day, according to the EIA.
Plaskoff uses his industry experience to stay prepared for “rainy days,” and know where he needs to spend money.