An article in the New York Times this week cited a report by America’s Commercial Transportation Research group that says 45,000 tractors, or more than 3% of the nation’s tractor fleet, have departed from U.S. highways since early last year, reports landlinemag.com. That surpasses the early ’80s shakeout when deregulation, a recession, high interest rates and the second Arab oil embargo resulted in the loss of 33,000 tractors.

In addition, the Times article cites a Commerce Department report that says nearly 24,000 used, over-the-road tractors have been exported to other countries in the last year. The weakness of the dollar is one reason more trucks are going abroad, many of them to Russia. Thousands of truckers have sold their rigs because of the soaring price of diesel, which spiked 22.6¢ to a nationwide average of $4.723 this past week.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Time magazine reports that strikes and blockades over the price of fuel are spreading across the continent. French drivers are paying $8.67/gal. for “super,” compared to $7.10 in January 2007; and a gallon of diesel averages $8.54, up from $5.35 just a year ago.

In the UK, diesel costs $11.50/gal., with the average cost of a gallon of gas running to about $8.70.

The situation would be even worse if it weren't for the considerable appreciation of the euro and the British pound against the dollar over the past year, the article says, which has partially offset the price escalation in dollar-traded oil.

Incidentally, state and federal taxes currently make up just 11% of the pump price in the U.S., while taxes in France and the UK account for an average of around 70%. See the article at: www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1809900,00.html?cnn=yes.