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Truckers Are Protesting PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 03 April 2008 09:43

RIDGEFIELD, N.J. (CBS/AP) ? Independent truckers around the country pulled their rigs off the road and others slowed to a crawl on major highways in a loosely organized protest of high fuel prices.

Some truckers, on CB radios and trucking Web sites, had called for a strike Tuesday to protest the high cost of diesel fuel, saying the action might pressure President Bush to stabilize prices by using the nation's oil reserves. But the protests were scattered because major trucking companies were not on board and there did not appear to be any central coordination.

On New Jersey's Turnpike, southbound rigs "as far as the eye can see" staged a short lunchtime protest by moving at about 20 mph near Newark -- jamming traffic on one of the nation's most heavily traveled highways. 

Chopper 2 HD hovered over the Vince Lombardi Service Area in Ridgefield where about 75 truckers were rallying outside the building there.

State Police said several drivers were issued tickets as troopers broke up the slowdowns.

At a Turnpike rest area in North Jersey, about 200 truck drivers carried signs and protested high fuel prices.

"The gas prices are too high," said one of them, Lamont Newberne, a 34-year-old trucker from Wilmington, N.C. "We don't make enough money to pay our bills and take care of our family."

Newberne said a typical run carrying produce from Lakeland, Fla., to the Hunt's Point Market in The Bronx, N.Y., had cost $600 to $700 a year ago. It now runs him $1,000.

Outside Chicago, three truck drivers were ticketed for impeding traffic on Interstate 55, driving three abreast at low speeds, said Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Luis Gutierrez.

Near Florida's Port of Tampa, more than 50 tractor-trailer rigs sat idle as their drivers demanded that contractors pay them more to cover their fuel and other costs.

Echoing Newberne, many truckers said they can't support their family on what they make.

"We can no longer haul their stuff for what they're paying," said David Santiago, 35, a trucker for the past 17 years. "If it wasn't for my wife, we would have been bankrupt already," Santiago said.

Charles Rotenbarger, 49, a trucker from Columbus, Ohio, said he felt helpless.

"The oil company is the boss, what are we going to be able to do about it?" said Rotenbarger, who was at a truck stop at Baldwin, Fla., about 20 miles west of Jacksonville. "The whole world economy is going to be controlled by the oil companies. There's nothing we can do about it."

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