NJ trucking industry is in bad shape. Could things soon get even worse?
Everybody knows how high gas prices are in New Jersey right now, but you might not realize the average price for diesel is much higher, about $6 dollars a gallon.
This is having a major impact not only on trucking companies but also on everyone who goes to a store to buy anything.
Everything comes on a truck
According to Gail Toth, the executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, no matter what kind of product you’re talking about it is delivered by a truck, and “there’s a pricing that has to add transportation costs and your fuel costs, and that gets passed on ultimately to every consumer, so yes it’s going to have a serious impact on everyone.”
She said even as prices keep spiking there are also growing concerns about a possible diesel fuel shortage, and it’s getting harder to find specialized products and additives needed for newer truck engines.
“You know you can’t get supplies in, you can’t get raw materials to finalize your supplies, you can’t find the labor, the fuel prices are going through the roof,” she lamented.
Not enough drivers
Toth said another problem is the truck driver shortage continues to get worse.
“A lot of drivers like a lot of other people decided early retirement was for them,” she said.
"Some people now have to pick and choose who they’re going to service because they don’t have enough drivers, they can’t grow their businesses because there’s not enough drivers.”
She said trucking companies are carefully considering fuel and other operating costs, and some may be forced to cut out deliveries to locations that are farther away, which creates yet another major obstacle.
“This thing is enormous because when you cut out the supply chain, the people that bring you all of the supplies, that’s a problem, a very serious problem.”
She explained in order to survive, truck companies must pass along higher fuel costs to the stores and businesses they service, but if there is a payment delay by those businesses because of financial issues, the trucking companies may wind up quickly going out of business because they won’t ave enough revenue to keep buying fuel and paying salaries.
What happens if truck deliveries stop?
Toth said if trucks stop rolling there will be big problems quickly.
“Everything at some point comes by a truck: your bread, your clothing, your diapers, your medicine, your garden supplies, everything,” she said. “Everything goes by truck so it’s incredibly important to find a way to keep us moving.”
What happens next?
"No one’s ever seen anything this bad, no one knows what the future is. Everyone is just trying to go day by day, make sure you have your fuel," she said.
“I don’t want to scare people but we just don’t know. We don’t know but we know we need to have fuel, we need fuel for our trucks.”
She said the production of different types of biodiesel fuels is being stepped up, but right now there is not enough of it to make much of a difference.