In a time when there is so much unemployment in the United States, the one section that not only is going full blast and actually looking for employees is the trucking industry. The American Trucking Association states that currently there are a 20,000 open trucking jobs and predicts that there will be a shortage of drivers as much as 111,000 by 2014. This reflects the importance of encouraging more people to enter the driver part of the industry.
Currently there are 3.5 million professional drivers on the highway but more are needed to keep the produce and other things moved from one section to another. This requires a great deal of diesel fuel and causes wear and tear on the nation’s highways. Some are in excellent shape and others are desperately in need of repair.
The real name of the Interstate Highway System, Interstate Freeway Systems, or the Interstate, is the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. This system, which consists of freeways, highways, and expressways, was authorized in 1956. It took 35 years for the original plan to be completed. It is a public works program that completed 47,182 miles in 2010.
In 1956 a Highway Trust Fund was also established which charged three cents on every gallon of diesel fuel sold. This was soon increased to 4.5 cents, raised in 1993 to 18.4 cents per gallon, and on April 1, 2010 went to 24.4 cents per gallon, which you are paying today. Other funds are raised from bond issues, property taxes, and other taxes. Some sections of Interstate Highways operate as toll roads to maintain costs and pay for new construction. Originally, these toll roads were banned by federal legislation on the Interstate.
The states have also thrown diesel fuel tax into the mix. The highest states for diesel fuel taxes are California 79.5 and New York with 75.1. Alaska is the least expensive with 32.4. This means that if you are filling the trucks in California 79.5 cents of every gallon you are paying is for state tax, not fuel.
Truckers have long known that fuel for their vehicle is one of the big costs of operation. Therefore, many owner operators have come to realize that they need to fuel up in locations where the taxes are not so high. While it may seem a small amount, over time it can really add up. If you tank up a Peterbilt with two 150-gallon tanks, it would be 300 gallons. In California, you would be paying $312.00 (24.4 Federal, 79.5 state) just in taxes. However, if you tanked up next door, in Arizona (24.4 Federal, plus 37.4 state), prior to crossing the border, you would pay $184.00. These figures are based on a full 300 gallons to show the difference in price, however the $128.00 savings can make a difference over time.
It will pay you to check out the amount of diesel tax being charged by the states and add it to the 24.4 cents per gallon federal tax. This information is available on the Internet. Deciding where to ‘tank up’ is one way operating costs can be lowered. Fuel taxes at one time did not seem that important but, with oil companies continually raising their prices, this added expense can make fuel costs prohibitive.