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Rising diesel fuel prices hurting truck drivers

Fuel prices made even more history Friday, as diesel prices reached an all-time high.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — Another record-breaking day at the fuel pumps in Luzerne County and across the nation means more bad news for drivers. The national average for a gallon of diesel fuel has now reached $5.18, a mark some never thought possible.

Gasbuddy.com reports the average cost for a gallon of diesel is now a dollar higher than a gallon of gasoline, breaking the old record of $0.98. 

As usual, average prices in Pennsylvania are much higher than the national average. According to AAA, diesel is currently $5.61 on average in the commonwealth. That's up more than 40 cents from a month ago. In Luzerne County, we found prices well over $6.50.

"That's crazy," said Michael Balberte, a truck driver. "I mean, the last two months it's been getting higher and higher."

Balberte is an independent contractor. When diesel prices go up, it comes right out of his pocket. Filling up used to cost him $400, now it's well over $1,000. To make matters worse, he says he's getting paid less for each delivery.

"This load for example; I made that load for $2,300, now I make that load for $1,900," he said.

"The fuel is very high, but the rate is the same thing," said Abraham Ali, another independently contracted truck driver.

Truck drivers aren't the only ones wincing at higher prices. New York resident Chrissy Southwick is heading to Virginia, pulling a trailer full of horses. These days, she's getting to fewer competitions.

"Just to fill up this truck, I'd say about a year ago it was less than about $80 to fill it up and now it's over $200," she said. "I'm very limited. I have to pick and choose where I can go."

Balberte tells Newswatch 16 he's going to keep pushing forward, even though every mile is costing him.

"I'm losing money and to be honest, I don't know what I'm going to do," he said. "It's too expensive right now. I'm trying to do my best, but it's getting harder every day."

In just a few hours, Newswatch 16 crews watched as diesel prices in Pittston Township went up another five cents, nearing $6.60. 

Southwick told Newswatch 16 she's "scared" of where things are headed and how high prices could climb.  

Check out WNEP’s YouTube page.   

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