Sunday, March 30, 2008


Fuel Prices Will Be Passed On To The Consumer

(Mar.29 Jackson, MS) As the price per gallon of diesel fuel continues its meteoric rise, consumers of diesel feel the additional financial burden acutely. In no sector of the economy is this more in evidence than in the trucking industry. Other large consumers of diesel such as railroads, farmers and passenger carriers have sufficient government provided subsidies to offset the pain of rising fuel costs. Trucking has no such benefactors in Washington, DC or elsewhere.

Yesterday, Bill Graves the President and CEO of the American Trucking Association (ATA) called on the federal Departments of Transportation and Energy to intervene in what promises to be a growing drag on an already sinking economy. Aside from the ATA's public actions several grassroots truck driver groups comprised largely of barely literate, grossly obese, seldom showered owner/operators are calling for an industry wide “Idle Day” on Tuesday, April 1. This idle day is intended as a driver initiated protest to the cost of diesel fuel. Owner/operators are particularly vulnerable to economic variables such as the price of fuel since they are independent and must bear the burden of all their expenses while freight rates have remained stagnant. The bulk of commodities and freight that are trucked in America are moved by large fleets that wield clout with all the major shippers and truck stop chains insofar as locking in fuel price costs and collecting fuel surcharges.

The MRW 1 Group, headquartered here in Jackson is one of the most powerful, prestigious and influential trucking industry consultancies. They have a very active lobbying presence on Capitol Hill as well as strong ties across the entire spectrum of transportation, logistics, and carriers. They also house an innovative think tank that conducts cutting edge, innovative research in all areas of trucking and driver study. The Governmental Affairs Director of the MRW 1 Group, Dr. F. Lee Flack, issued a withering position statement regarding this “Idle Day” shut down. Flack stated “ Most of the problems these drivers are experiencing are self-induced. Most large fleet company drivers, men and women who drive for Werner, Knight and KLLM are doing just fine. The owner operators who spend 40% of their time in truck stops getting their tanks, wheels and fifth wheels polished while they play video games and eat buffets; now those folks just don’t know how to run a business. If they had any smarts they would not be broke. If they want to haul 80 cent a mile freight, that is their business.”

Dr. Flack also stated “ With all due respect to drivers, what other industry can a young business novice with a $1000 in their pockets suddenly become and independent business owner?”

Some of these committed drivers are subject to being victims of greedy brokers; others race from truck stop to truck stop seeking loads off load boards that would leave them even further in the whole.

“Drivers who try to make their living purely off truck stop load boards are, frankly, barking up the wrong tree. They need to develop customer contacts, establish a true, reliable customer base, one of mutual benefit. These drivers ought not even bother competing with the large, nationwide carriers.”

Dr. Flack, who possesses a degree in law from Ole Miss, a Ph.D. in Economic Philosophy from Harvard and a CDL, cautions. “ The independent driver with their own authority, needs to identify a niche’, develop a relationship and realize just how many small shippers would rather do business with a reliable O/O, than any broker or mid-sized carrier."

Industry insiders aside from the from the MRW 1 Group are unanimous in the belief that, “ Many of these drivers dive head first into the pool and by the time they hit bottom, they don't realize, they are already drowning already drowning.”

Dr. Flack, candidly, recommended some measures the independent/ lease purchase,/ O/O, can take starting with , “ For every driver that joins OOIDA, their membership will help propel us beyond the Teamsters. After all, we are the folks hauling the bulk of the freight.”

Kenneth M. Necaise, Director of Transportation Studies at Alcorn Stae University commented, “ Some drivers may need to take a look in the mirror. Just because the posted speed limit might be 70, doesn’t mean you HAVE TO drive 70 mph.”

“ Drivers need to slow down, maximize fuel economy and take advantage of the meager fuel surcharges they are receiving.”
Kenneth M. Necaise, states emphatically that, “ If a driver could raise his fuel economy from 5 gallons per mile to 6.5 gallons per mile, with todays current cost of fuel, that driver could conceivably pocket over $19,000 in fuel savings alone in a year."

Dr. Flack, a very pragmatic member of the trucking community says, “ These two simple steps may not solve your problems immediately, but they will provide a good foundation.”

The overwhelming majority of MRW 1 Group clients,which include, fleet owners ( maximum 20 trucks), old time Owner/Operators,and some of the major carriers reject the notion of an “Idle Day”. "We are too concerned with servicing our shippers, client base and other honorable members of the shipping community", said Dr. Flack.

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