Independent truckers see end of the road

Trucker Robert Griffith is on the road three weeks out of four, pulling oversize loads like crane booms, railroad ties and air conditioning ducts. One of his biggest worries: How he’ll find the money to buy his daughter a prom dress.

As the cost of diesel doubled over the last four years, his take-home pay has plummeted, from $50,000 to $11,000 last year. He’s literally burning money; he spent $64,000 on diesel in the last eight months. Since he canceled his satellite radio, he’s on citizens band radio constantly (handle: Instigator) talking about what needs to change so truckers like him can survive.

“I had to learn to live totally different,” said Griffith, 41, of Lebanon, Tenn.

No more $150 family outings to Shogun sushi. No more weekly washes for his Western Star 4900 EX truck. No more health insurance for him and his family.

“It hurts,” he said. “I’m a man who’s trying to make a living for my family and I’m not succeeding.”

Trucking’s owner-operators, the self-employed drivers who haul everything from Hummers to hay, are suffering. Many say they’re running on the edge of bankruptcy, about to disappear unless they get help. While a wave of trucking failures now might be invisible to consumers, when the economy rebounds, it would push up shipping rates, helping increase prices.

And what’s OOIDA doing to help, besides worrying about the non issue of  Mexican trucks? Why NOTHING of course, except sending silly little letters to the White House which are destined for the round file.

 

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