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February 15, 2022

How Fuel Prices Affect Truckers

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Fuel Prices

  • Low Fuel Prices

Surprisingly, fuel prices significantly impact the trucking industry and the rest of our economy. Fuel prices and oil prices dropping can result in thousands of workers being laid off, left looking for a new trucking job. When such a large portion of Americans stop working, fewer people buy products. Even something as crucial as fuel can reduce in sales. During this time, the demand is lessened to the point where there's less freight to move. Those who haul fuel and oil could have trucks sitting without movement for long periods of time, for weeks on end. Truckers can be significantly affected by this, having reduced hours or even losing their jobs altogether.

  • High Fuel Prices

High fuel prices can have dangerously similar effects. While the circumstances are different, the result can often be the same. Truck drivers who transport fuel and oil will generally be earning decent amounts, as well as spending plenty. Making decent money is all well and good, but the kicker in these situations is that the price of manufacturing and raw materials often will rise as a result. As these prices increase, the cost of transporting these goods becomes more expensive. 

The only way to stay profitable during these times is to ensure that each driver's fuel costs less than the profit earned by delivering the load itself.

When there's a shortage of truck drivers, this adds an additional constraint. Big companies that don't have enough drivers to operate trucks have a massive impact on the charged rates. 

How to Effectively Manage Fuel Efficiency

Gas mileage can surprisingly vary greatly! This is good news for trucking companies and truck driver’s who have their CDL. When done right, we can look past the pricing of fuel, manage the amount of waste occurring, and influence the effectiveness of the fuel we buy.

Avoid Biofuel

While biofuel might seem like a good idea in theory, unfortunately, these fuels can be more expensive than petroleum diesel fuel. Biodiesel blends come in a variety of different concentrations, but even the most common mix, B20 will have 1% to 2% less energy per gallon than petroleum diesel. It's best to avoid biofuel in general due to this higher price for lower fuel mileage.

Check Your Tire Pressure

The bottom line is this; under-inflated tires cost you money. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, You lose 0.1% of your gas mileage for every 1 psi missing from your car's set of four tires. Additionally, every psi you lose also results in your tires wearing 10% faster; all that money spent on new tires could have gone towards the ever-increasing fuel expense! On average, simply having your tire pressure at the proper levels can improve your gas mileage by 3.3%.

Driving Poorly

Most truck drivers know their truck has a "sweet spot." When it comes to driving well, you'll want to avoid going too fast or even too slow. One of the worst culprits known for destroying good gas mileage is the driver who speeds to their destination. When you surpass your truck's sweet spot on the speedometer, the engine will begin to prioritize speed over fuel efficiency. Fuel consumption increases, resulting in additional stops to refuel and reduced profit from wasted fuel.

Idle Time

It's no secret that idling in any vehicle wastes fuel. Trucks, however, tend to require about a gallon of fuel per hour when running idle. As gas prices reach the $4 mark, idling for even just 3 hours per day wastes upwards of $336 a month!

Truck drivers may idle for long periods to keep air conditioning or heat on in the truck's cab or just to warm up the engine itself. Being mindful of when you idle and even keeping a detailed log of when you idled and what the reason was can show you where these idling sessions can be cut short.

Perform Regular Maintenance

Truck driver safety is never a bad idea. Part of maintaining a safe vehicle includes regular maintenance which can aid your fuel efficiency by helping you determine the reason for a fluctuation in fuel efficiency. Use preventative maintenance skills by checking your current miles per gallon every time you fuel up. Never use a higher-viscosity oil than you need, check frequently for low oil, dirty filters, or any leaks in the air compressor.

Slow Down

Gravity can be a killer when it comes to fuel efficiency. Slowing down in general on mountains and small hills will reduce the force your truck needs to fight against gravity. Accelerating quickly might save you a few seconds on your commute, but it will create wear and tear on the engine, tires, and driveline - all of which will raise your fuel cost. Breaking hard and fast will also convert your precious fuel into essentially useless energy. Fuel is then burned quickly when you attempt to regain speed.

Shift Wisely

Always check your RPMs and shift only when indicated. Some drivers use the engine's sound to indicate the proper time to shift; however, this can lead to lost fuel efficiency. RPMs will give you the most accurate timing allowing you to shift wisely and only when necessary.

Sadly, there is no way for the trucking industry to influence the price of fuel and oil directly, but we can use our advantages to manage how these changes in fuel prices affect us long term.

Thank you for reading this article. If you are interested in working for a trucking company with your best interest at heart ABL Trucking is the place for you. We do our best to give you time with your family and happiness in your workspace. To apply for a job you can call us at (385) 722-7331 or contact us online.