Gas prices: 'Now it’s $2,400 a week,' trucker says about soaring fuel costs

Drivers across the U.S. are feeling the pinch amid higher gas prices, and truckers are feeling some of the worst pain at the pump.

"[It] used to cost about $800 to fill up — now we're talking a $1,000 [to] $1,100 to fill up a 250 gallon tank," Jacinda Duran, a third generation trucker who works for Blackburn Energy, told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). "It's rising every day, literally you see fuel prices go up 40 cents, 50 cents, 60 cents overnight. An average fuel week was about $1,500 [or] $1600. Now it's $2,400 a week."

As of Thursday, the average cost of a gallon of regular gas in the U.S was $4.236, according to AAA, while diesel fuel costs were an average of $5.053 per gallon. On Tuesday, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest by population, hit a record $6.011.

Duran has worked with Convoy, a digital freight network, since 2017 and is currently driving with Convoy Co-Founder Grant Goodale.

'Electric trucks and autonomous trucks eventually will change this industry'

The trucking industry needs an estimated 80,000 more drivers to operate optimally, according to the American Trucking Association, an issue exposed further amid the pandemic. And while inflation is hitting items carried by truckers across the country, wages and benefits for those truck drivers isn't catching up for the demanding role.

"On average, the rates for truckers are not increasing as rapidly as fuel prices are increasing and that's, what's putting the squeeze on the small carriers in this nation," Goodale told Yahoo Finance, later adding that the reason truckers have not seen wage inflation is that "a lot of the freight that's moved in this country has moved under contract and those freight rates are set annually or less frequently, which makes it hard for the companies that are setting those contracts to flex to accommodate fuel price that move so quickly."

In 2020, median annual wages for truck drivers were $47,130 compared to $110,000 in 1980. Plus, data from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that there were 996,894 for-hire carriers, 813,440 private carriers, and 83,235 other interstate motor carriers in the US, as of February 2021.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden last year was pushing for electric vehicles to make up half of the U.S. auto sales by 2030. The question remains if the trucking industry will head in that direction, too.

Goodale noted that "electric trucks and autonomous trucks eventually will change this industry," adding: "The reality is electric trucks will be impactful in large scale fleets and private fleets where charging, infrastructure can be built at the facilities where the trucks pick up and drop off."

However, for smaller truckers like Jacinda, that's another story.

Truckers are "dependent on public infrastructure to accommodate their flexible sort of work style where they're traveling everywhere and working in many cases with smaller companies that either won't or can't afford to put in charging infrastructure," Goodale noted.

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @daniromerotv

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