Diesel gas prices rising higher than unleaded

Lawton_Gasoline prices continue to rise.  The Automobile Association of America says Monday's national average for a tank of regular unleaded gas is $3.22 - half a cent away from the highest price per gallon in history.  But, the news is worse for drivers of the millions of vehicles with diesel engines.  The national average for a gallon of diesel is $3.82 - the highest ever.

The attitude at gas stations is not good.  A gallon of diesel cost about $2.73 at this time last year - up about $1.12.  Drivers are not happy.  Michael Decker's Peterbilt semi gets 5.7 miles per gallon, and paired with increasing prices at the pump, his expenses are piling up.  "On average, it costs me about $500 to fuel my truck up," he says.

Diesel prices today are now almost eight times what they were when Decker started trucking 20 years ago.  "You know when I first started driving a truck, I could buy a gallon of diesel for 49 cents," he says.  He refuels every day, and his truck's two gas tanks each hold 100 gallons.  "This truck here holds - it has 120 gallon tanks on each side - at $4.00 a gallon, figure that out, you know, when you go to put 150 gallons in, 180 gallons.  If I'm empty it'll cost me like $600-$700 to fill up."

With prices differing by state, drivers like Ray Santos carefully time their fill-ups.  He needed gas in Ohio, but only got 50 gallons to last him until he arrived in Missouri where prices are lower.  "It's cheaper.  I was in Ohio on Friday, and it was like $3.88 up there already.  Here, it's cheaper," he says.

What confuses some drivers is how diesel now costs more than regular fuel.  "It's always been lower than the price of unleaded fuel, and now, wherever you go, it's 50 to 70 cents more than what unleaded is," says Santos.  "It doesn't make much sense to us because it's a by-product of gasoline, so it's actually cheaper to make.  I'm not sure why it's like that, but it's running a lot of people out of business."

Semi drivers aren't the only ones hurting.  High diesel costs mean some towing companies are spending as much on gas to get a car, as they will in return for the job.  One tow truck driver said he may have to take his wrecker out of service until prices go down.  Until then, more and more businesses may find their profits running on empty.

Since Oklahoma is a trucking hub, the state tax on diesel is 14 cents per gallon - 3 cents less than regular gasoline.  AAA says projections are for truck traffic in Oklahoma to double in the next 20 years.