Diesel prices are rising. The latest E.I.A. report has it at 3.171 per gallon nationally. Last year at this time it was 2.539 per gallon. Not too long ago ago it was under $3 per gallon. As owner operators we can’t control the national price. We have some control over what we pay for it. Although, what we pay for it is greatly correlated with the national average. We can control how much we use.

I think that fluctuations in diesel prices are naturally occurring and exacerbated by outside events. There is a natural rise in diesel prices when the economy heats up. While higher trucking rates may have some effect on prices it increase in demand are “fueling” the increase in fuel prices. Over the years, I have learned to acknowledge what I can’t control, and concentrate on what I can.

Decrease what you pay per gallon. Join some sort of fuel discounting program. Most large companies like the Caffee’s Landstar and my Paper Transport get discounts from truck stops. Independents like Joey, Jimmy, and Henry can get discounts as well. The National Association of Small Trucking Companies is an example of a place where small trucking companies and independents can get fuel discounts that rival the largest companies. Don’t think that because you are small, that you can’t get discounted fuel. Do your research.

We can all get a little less diligent when it comes to MPG when prices are low. While the equation never changes, the factors do. We may add a little speed. We may not be as careful with our idle time. Maybe we are a little heavier on the fuel pedal and less likely to progressively shift or progressively throttle.

There is a trade off between speed and fuel mileage. Generally the faster you go the worst your fuel mileage. Counter balance that with a higher HOS usage and perhaps a drop in gross revenue. Find your sweet spot. It can change from day to day. The goal is not necessarily using the least amount of fuel or maximizing gross revenue. The goal is no maximize net profit.

Reduce you idle time. Idle time does not just increase fuel costs. It increases maintenance costs. My truck is on a 3 minute timer. It shuts down after 3 minutes of idling. It rarely gets there because I shut it off if I am going to get anywhere close to the 3 minute mark. My idle time is less than 6 percent. That not only increases my MPG but greatly decreases the probability of after treatment issues.

Most of us learned to progressively shift. Progressively throttling the DT12 AMT will encourage it to progressively shift. Your foot is your way of sending signals to the drive train. Give it the right signals and you will get the right results.

Reducing your fuel costs is a constant effort. So is maximizing your net profit.

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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