Region 8 Truckers React to High Diesel Prices

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A price difference in regular gasoline and diesel fuel has Region 8 truckers upset. In Jonesboro, the price of regular unleaded is $1.39 in some places. Diesel fuel is $2.29 at those same places. In recent months, regular gasoline has plummeted from all-time highs this summer, but diesel fuel prices remain high.

"It's a killer on the drivers, especially when we're not making anything. Everything is going to the fuel," said Ed Pettitt, a company driver.

"Money wise, it's getting pretty tight to keep your maintenance up too," said Ron Long, owner and operator.

Long has been a trucker for 15 years and owns his vehicle. He has to pay for fuel when making deliveries, shelling out $600 a week. Fortunately for Long, he's been able to work on his own time.

"I've always had my own trucks and everything. I mean, it's kind of nice to have your own vehicle. You don't have to jump in and out flip-seating," said Long.

Other drivers aren't so lucky. Jim Daughhetee has been working for a trucking company for the last 2 years. In the business for 5 years, his truck sits in his drive-way in Jonesboro.

"I had my own truck. It was leased to some companies and stuff, and fuel just kept getting higher and higher and by the time I drive all week, come in and take the fuel out and all that, my settlement and all, I didn't even have what a driver would get paid," said Daughhetee.

Truckers don't understand why the price of diesel is so different than that of regular gas. Years ago, diesel fuel was actually cheaper than regular.

"When I first started driving, diesel fuel was about the price of mid-grade gas, about 10 cents higher than your cheap gas. And it just kept getting higher and higher and higher. They claim it's because the amount of refinery it takes to get this new ultra low sulphur they got," said Daughhetee.

"I can remember buying fuel over there in Oklahoma City for 98 cents a gallon, and I tell you what, we were all in hog heaven then," said Long.

The high diesel prices forced Daughhetee to become a company driver. He said he's much less concerned about today's prices.

"Out of that I had to up keep the truck, keep tires and maintenance on it and oil changes, plus insurance. When I did all that, I had nothing left to keep the family going," said Daughhetee.

"The company drivers got a pretty good thing going right now. I mean, with retirement and stuff like that," said Long.

"The company driver probably has a 401k, insurance, benefits, retirement, which the owner operator, all that on his own," said Long.

Truckers said politics and gas companies are the main reasons of the price spike.

"Too many people with their hands in the pot, and that's what we mainly thought about it. We've been complaining about it for a long time," said Ed Pettitt.

"When it got to the $3.59 mark, it's like, most of the drivers said, we can't do it. We had a lot of companies fold up because of it," said Pettitt.

Daughhetee, Long and Pettitt believe if fuel prices rise, so will all other goods.

"I think there's a lot of diesel used in the world, whether people realize it or not, and I think they just found a place to make up the profits otherwise," said Daughhetee.

"We got to have the trucks. America rolls on trucks. 99.9% of anything you see, you own or you have, it was on a truck at one time of another," said Daughhetee.

For gas prices in your area, click here.