Record-High Gas Prices Hit Wallets Hard - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/6/04

Record-High Gas Prices Hit Wallets Hard

Some drivers are feeling the pinch more than others. For instance, truck drivers, who travel across the country, say the high fuel prices are making them think twice about staying in the business.

"Sometimes I feel like buying my own truck," Greg Lopez, a truck driver from McAllen, said. "And from what I see right now, I don't think so."

In East Texas, diesel fuel costs as high as $1.65. But just to save a few cents per gallon, many truck drivers are willing to go out of their way. When your tank holds 300 gallons of fuel, every penny counts.

Truck owner-operator Grant Laughlin, from Winnipeg, Canada, delivers meat products to 48 states in the U.S. Saveway Trucking takes a cut from his revenues, but Laughlin has to pay for all of the expenses. And fuel makes up more than half of them.

"And I still have to live too, I mean, maintain a house and a family and my two pets," Laughlin said.

Laughlin has been a truck driver for 25 years. He sends money home to his wife, two daughters, and two children he and his wife support through a Christian children's fund. But it's getting harder because Laughlin is paying $500 more each week for fuel than he was just one month ago.

"We wind up with snack food from a convenience counter instead of a proper meal," Laughlin said.

These days, Laughlin does his own maintenance work because he can no longer afford to pay a professional mechanic.

But higher fuel prices are not just affecting truck owners. The costs are getting passed down to consumers, who are paying more for the goods shipped inside the trucks.

"By the end of the summer, if they stay high, I'm shutting it down, parking the truck, and going to work in a factory," Laughlin said.

Something many other truck owners are threatening to do.

According to the consumer advocacy group Gas Price Watch, the highest price in the country for regular unleaded gas is in California at $2.79 per gallon. The lowest price can be found in New Jersey at $1.58. The average is $1.91.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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