Fuel Surcharges in the Trucking Industry: Impact on Drivers and How They’re Calculated

The trucking industry is an essential component of the global economy, responsible for transporting goods and commodities across long distances. However, fuel prices can significantly impact the industry, affecting trucking companies, drivers, and consumers. One way that trucking companies offset rising fuel prices is through fuel surcharges, which are additional fees charged to customers to cover the increased cost of fuel.

semi fuel

This article will explore what fuel surcharges are in the trucking industry and how they impact drivers.

What Are Fuel Surcharges?

Fuel surcharges are additional fees that trucking companies add to their shipping rates to compensate for rising fuel prices. These surcharges are typically calculated as a percentage of the base shipping rate, and the percentage can vary depending on the fuel price index. The fuel price index used to calculate surcharges is usually based on the national average price of diesel fuel or other petroleum products.

The purpose of fuel surcharges is to ensure that trucking companies can maintain profitability despite fluctuations in fuel prices. When fuel prices rise, trucking companies must spend more money to fuel their vehicles, which can significantly impact their bottom line. By adding a fuel surcharge to their shipping rates, trucking companies can recover some of the additional costs associated with higher fuel prices.

How Do Fuel Surcharges Impact Drivers?

Fuel surcharges can have a significant impact on truck drivers, particularly those who are independent contractors or owner-operators. These drivers are responsible for paying for their own fuel, and the cost of fuel can be a significant expense for them. When fuel prices rise, the cost of fuel can eat into their profits, making it more challenging to earn a living.

Fuel surcharges can help offset some of the increased cost of fuel for drivers. However, drivers must be aware that not all trucking companies pass on the full amount of the fuel surcharge to them. Some companies may only pass on a portion of the surcharge or may not pass it on at all, which can leave drivers struggling to make ends meet.

In some cases, fuel surcharges can also impact driver behavior. For example, if a driver is paid by the mile, they may be incentivized to drive more slowly or take longer routes to increase their mileage and earn more money. This can result in longer transit times and higher shipping costs for customers.

No products found.

How Are Fuel Surcharges Calculated?

Fuel surcharges are typically calculated based on a fuel price index, which is a measure of the average price of fuel in a particular region or across the country. The most commonly used fuel price index for the trucking industry is the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Diesel Fuel Price Index.

The DOE Diesel Fuel Price Index is based on a national average of diesel fuel prices, and it is updated weekly. The fuel surcharge percentage is usually calculated as a percentage of the base shipping rate, and it can vary depending on the fuel price index. For example, if the fuel price index is high, the fuel surcharge percentage will also be high.

Factors That Affect Fuel Surcharges

Several factors can affect fuel surcharges in the trucking industry. The most significant factor is the price of fuel, which is influenced by global supply and demand, political instability, and other factors. Other factors that can impact fuel surcharges include:

  • Fuel Efficiency: Fuel surcharges can be lower for more fuel-efficient trucks since they consume less fuel per mile.
  • Distance: Longer routes require more fuel, which can result in higher fuel surcharges.
  • Seasonality: Fuel prices can be higher in the winter due to increased demand for heating oil.
  • Geographical Location: Fuel prices can vary by region, which can impact fuel surcharges for trucking companies operating in those areas.

Fuel surcharges are an essential component of the trucking industry

allowing trucking companies to recover some of the increased costs associated with rising fuel prices. While fuel surcharges can help offset some of the increased cost of fuel for drivers, they can also impact driver behavior and leave some drivers struggling to make ends meet if not passed on in full by trucking companies.

To mitigate the impact of fuel surcharges on drivers, it is essential for drivers to negotiate fair and transparent contracts with trucking companies. Drivers should ensure that fuel surcharges are clearly outlined in their contracts and that they receive the full amount of the surcharge.


Fuel surcharges are a necessary component of the trucking industry, allowing trucking companies to remain profitable despite fluctuations in fuel prices. However, drivers must be aware of how fuel surcharges impact their bottom line and negotiate fair contracts to ensure they receive the full amount of the surcharge.

By understanding fuel surcharges and their impact on the industry, drivers can make informed decisions and advocate for their best interests.

Spread the love