Higher Fuel Costs Jeopardize Freight Industry

The price for unleaded fuel jumped 6 cents from Thursday to Friday, according to the daily fuel report conducted by AAA. In the last week, gas has gone up by an estimated 12 cents.

For Texoma truckers, who depend on fuel to make a living, the added cost to fill up is putting the industry in jeopardy.

The estimated price to fill up an 18 wheeler is between $700 and $800 per tank. However with the steady rise in fuel costs, truckers have to pay at least $100 more at the pump.

Tony Brownsword is a company truck driver who has spent the last 40 years driving a truck. He said he's seen it all. New trucks, better working conditions, even mandatory breaks. When fuel prices jumped overnight, his bosses started to make him change his long held habits to save money.

"When the prices go up, the company starts getting on us about letting the truck sit and idle. Every time we stop, they want the truck stopped," said Brownsword, shaking his head. "It's nothing like it was 40 years ago."

Belivar, a commercial trucker from Ft. Worth, doesn't understand the reason for the rise.

"I think they went up way too much. The reason? I don't know, I'm just surprised," said Belivar. Even though the driver doesn't personally pay for fuel, he is constantly affected by his company's budget.

"When the company is doing good, everybody is doing good. When the company is doing bad, everybody does bad. And the bosses of course, they are not going to like the prices going up," he said. "We didn't get raises in the past few months and I really don't expect a raise coming up, you know!"

The added cost doesn't just affect drivers. To see how energy costs affect farmers, click here.

Sherman Hopkins owns and operates his own truck. His costs are constantly changing to adjust to the price variance.

"When the fuel goes up, it raises the price on everything you buy on the shelf," he explained.

For every load Hopkins carries, a fuel surcharge is added to the cost. Many of his clients enter into a contract where the price of diesel is already stated. Any increase in the already agreed upon amount is taken right out of Hopkins' pocket, which he said is already empty to begin with.

"It's still pretty tough to dish extra money out for low paying freight as it is now," said Hopkins.

Randall Bashum, a cross country driver from Nashville, understands the plight of owner/operators.

"The owner that I drive for, we have one truck. And I mean, the fuel has gotten so high that we are ready to park our truck because of it," said Bashum. "I'd be out of a job, you know, if you have to park the truck. I won't have a job."

Mary Moloney, Newschannel 6