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Local truck drivers pulling rigs off road

WILMINGTON -- Oil company CEOs went before Congress today to discuss sky-rocketing fuel prices. The soaring costs are hitting truckers hard. An independent trucker's strike has already broken out sporadically in several cities across the country from Los Angeles to New Jersey. In our area some drivers have pulled their rigs off the road. At least half a dozen local truckers have brought their last load in to the dock. One driver says they're waiting for the government to do something about fuel prices that are putting the brakes on their bottom line. Striking trucker Nick Telesco said, "Everybody is fed up, a lot of these guys have high truck payments and their paying $1,000, $1,200, $1,400 a month. They're saying, you know, before we lose our trucks this might be the last chance we have to save everything." Telesco's truck is now in park. He says it may stay that way for days. He and five other local independent truckers are striking. They say rising fuel costs have emptied their wallets. "It's costing us $1.50 more per gallon and were losing $50 to $75 a load on some of these loads," Telesco said. To put it in to perspective, one truck owner operator broke down his finances: from March 3 to March 31, Skip Cox grossed about $7,200. He says he spent $3,300 on gas. That's nearly half of his monthly income -- and that's before taxes. Cox said, "It's getting to the point that it's not profitable." It's not just truck owner-operators that are feeling the punch at the pump. Company truck driver Eugene Crawford said, "It affects me because if they can't buy fuel, I can't work." The average price for diesel fuel in our area is about $4. That's up more than a dollar from last year. CW's Truck Stop manager Joseph Smith said, "When the trucks come in they actually charge an additional fee to deliver here, so in turn, our costs go up and we have to pass that along to the customers." In the meantime, while costs go up, many truckers feel that if something isn't done about prices -- the rise in fuel costs might mean the downfall of the industry. "If the fuel prices remain the same or go higher, they're going to cause more people to go out of business." And while fuel costs are a large expense it doesn't stop there: truckers have to pay more than $1,000 for tags; a federally imposed $500 heavy vehicle tax; tires are $500 each; and something as simple as an oil change is more than $200.

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