As of Tuesday, Nov. 13, diesel fuel prices have dropped over 20 cents in the Columbia area compared to a month ago, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.
A gallon of diesel fuel was going for $3.789 Tuesday in the Columbia area, whereas a month ago it was $4.052. In the Kansas City area on Tuesday, diesel fuel cost $3.698 per gallon. Less than a month ago, it cost $4.181. The Springfield area saw diesel fuel going for $3.763 a gallon Tuesday, compared to $3.985 a month ago. In St. Louis, diesel cost $3.668 a gallon Tuesday, compared to $3.968 a month ago. This is good news for trucking companies, but they aren’t yet in the clear.
“It could change tomorrow on the fuel, so it’s a daily and weekly battle,” Tom Crawford, president and CEO of the Missouri Trucking Association, said.
Crawford said when fuel costs went up in 2008, some companies went under because they couldn’t afford the increased fuel costs.
The highest price for diesel fuel in the Columbia area on record by AAA was in the summer of 2008, when prices hit $4.689 a gallon. The truck companies that are left after the 2008 fiscal crisis are the ones that can survey, say multiple trucking experts in the midwest.
“If a company is alive today, they have for the most part gotten those costs under control and they know how to work with them,” he said.
In a later interview, Crawford said that some of the money companies are saving on fuel costs could be going toward counteracting the shortage of truck drivers.
Coping with rising gas prices also depends on the scale of a company, Crawford said. For example, companies with more trucks have more costs, but also have more resources to utilize.
“They’ve implemented slower speeds with their fleets, they’ve implemented fuel mileage and fuel economy devices that help them try to reduce that cost,” Crawford said.
Don Schaefer, executive vice president at Midwest Trucking, said it’s important for trucking companies to have established a “decent” fuel surcharge into the rates they charge. Companies set a flat rate that they’ll charge based on what the benchmark price of diesel fuel is, he said, which the Department of Energy publishes Monday afternoons categorized by region.
“Fuel prices have been fluctuating for years, but especially so in the last four years,” Schaefer added in an email.