Fuel prices post another increase, and spot rates finally adjust upward

Updated Aug 9, 2023

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023:

Fuel prices up another 11 cents, spot rates follow in the last week

Oil prices around the world have traded around $85 a barrel for much of the last week, leading to diesel prices in the U.S. continuing their recent upswing.

The Energy Information Administration reports that the U.S.’ average price for a gallon of on-highway diesel jumped 11 cents during the week ending Aug. 7 to $4.24 -- the highest since the week ending March 13. The 11-cent increase follows weeks of 10- and 22-cent increases the last two weeks, making for a 43-cent surge in the last three weeks.

Spot rates, meanwhile, according to the weekly Truckstop/FTR Transportation Intelligence report, offset some of that increase, with dry vans posting a 4 cents/mile boost, reefer more than twice that on average.  

Diesel prices increased in all regions across the U.S., led by California, which saw an 18.1-cent increase, followed by the Rocky Mountain region, where prices jumped 16.1 cents. California remains home to the nation’s most expensive diesel at $5.34 a gallon, followed by the West Coast less California region at $4.54 a gallon.

The cheapest diesel is in the Gulf Coast region at $3.96 per gallon, followed by the Midwest and Lower Atlantic regions at $4.20 a gallon.

Prices in other regions, according to EIA:

  • New England -- $4.24
  • Central Atlantic -- $4.40
  • Rocky Mountain -- $4.29

The picture for the spot market, until last week, had been sluggish, with months' worth of small declines in rates. Load availability, demand and rates all took a positive turn last week, though, as illustrated below for broad market averages. 

Truckstop/FTR weekly spot market snapshot, August 7, 2023Dry van spot rates rose more than 4 cents after easing just three-tenths of a cent in the previous week. Dry van rates, which had been down for the prior four weeks, were nearly 15% below the same week last year and about 10% below the five-year average. Year over year comparisons may trend more favorable from here on out, given this time last year marked what FTR analysts called a final "normalization" of the spot market after unprecedented highs for carriers in 2021. Reefer rates posted an average 11 cent gain last week, while flatbed was generally flat to very slightly down.

Fueled by solid gains in the van segments, the total broker-posted spot rate in the Truckstop system rose for the first time in 10 weeks. Spot load post volume’s modest growth was nonetheless the strongest since April in a week not distorted by a holiday rebound or the Roadcheck inspection blitz.

ProMiles’ diesel averages during this most recent week showed an increase of 9.5 cents to a national average of $4.14 per gallon.

According to the ProMiles Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $5.31 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $3.85 per gallon.

[Related: Diesel prices rocket past $4/gallon]

CRST gets pre-CDL waiver extension

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is renewing an exemption for CRST The Transportation Solution (formerly CRST Expedited) that allows a commercial learner’s permit holder who has passed the CDL skills test to drive without a CDL holder in the front seat. The company has held the exemption since 2016.

In requesting a renewal of the exemption, CRST said drivers who would qualify “have already successfully passed all required CDL skills testing, and related prerequisites, required to lawfully take receipt of the CDL,” adding that they only have to travel to their home state to obtain their physical CDL.

“The only difference between a CRST CLP holder who has passed their skills testing via a registered ELDT training provider with the documentation of successful skills testing results in the Commercial Skills Test Information Management System (CSTIMS), and other newly credentialed CDL drivers is the physical possession of the CDL document,” the company noted.

CRST estimated that approximately 1,000 new drivers per year will operate under the exemption at one time or another.

FMCSA is provisionally renewing the exemption for five years, through Sept. 23, 2028, as long as the terms and conditions of the waiver are met.

[Related: FMCSA renews CRST exemption allowing pre-CDL truckers to drive team]

'It's a pay it forward type deal': Driver named Highway Angel for helping injured motorcyclist

Paul PelleritoPaul PelleritoTruck driver Paul Pellerito, a driver for Melton Truck Lines, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association for stopping to help an injured man who crashed his motorcycle on a highway onramp.

Around 7:15 a.m. on Saturday, June 17, Pellerito was driving in San Antonio from I-35 northbound onto the I-10 onramp. He saw a man near the road, frantically waving for him to stop, and then noticed the man’s crashed motorcycle about 50 feet away on the road.

Pellerito and another passerby stopped to help the man, who had not worn a motorcycle helmet and had sustained obvious injuries to his head and leg.

“We dragged him off the highway to the side of the road,” Pellerito said. “I saw that he was cut up and bleeding pretty bad on his face and his lip, so I ran to my truck and got him a towel to put pressure there.”

Pellerito, a 20-year Navy veteran who has been driving a truck for one year, called 911 and also got a pillow from his truck. He used it to elevate the crash victim’s head while he laid down on the side of the road. Pellerito communicated with the emergency responders on the phone until EMS arrived on the scene.

“It was somebody in despair,” he said. “He was frantically waving -- when you see somebody like that, you just have to do the right thing. It’s a pay it forward type deal.”

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