Fuel, the price of it and conserving it, remains the most critical issue facing truckers. On April 21, the price of diesel spiked to highs, of $4.60 a gallon in some areas and averaging $4.20 nationwide - jumping more than 8 cents a gallon in just one day, up $1.23 from last year, shattering diesel fuel price records.

In an effort to help the industry cope with the climbing cost of fuel - which has now surpassed drivers as trucking companies' top operating expense - Vancouver, Wash.-based Instructional Technologies Inc. (ITI) will offer all professional drivers, in the U.S. and Canada, its Pro-Tread "Fuel Management" lesson for free, from June 1-21.

The lesson can be accessed by drivers over the Internet. Its content was developed from Heavy Duty Trucking's award-winning special reports on the fuel squeeze published during the last fuel crisis.

In addition, this magazine will dedicate its entire June issue to giving readers the latest information on the fuel situation and providing tips on fuel management, the latest fuel-saving equipment and techniques. We will be feeding our editorial content to ITI to update their fuel conservation driver lesson.

HDT's June issue will explore the causes of this current crisis and feature the latest government and industry efforts to find solutions. It will include:

- The fuel surcharge controversy.

- Managing drivers for fuel conservation.

- Fuel purchasing strategies.

- Owner-operator perspective.

- Latest equipment specs for fuel economy.

- Hybrid solutions.

- Trailers and fuel efficiency.

- Idle prevention strategies.

- Using technology to manage fuel.

- Tire solutions for fuel economy.

ITI's client fleets have already paid for over 13,000 drivers to complete this effective half-hour lesson. Current ITI clients have been offered this lesson for free as of April 9, and will be allowed to take the updated lesson again at no cost during June.

According to ITI's CEO Jim Voorhees, "We speak with drivers and with fleet owners constantly, and all we've heard in the past few months is 'fuel, fuel, fuel.' We can't lower the cost of diesel, unfortunately, but we can help drivers burn less of it. With our 'Initiative Save-Green,' we're delighted to be able to give something back to the drivers and to the fleets that not only have helped make ITI such a success, but who also keep America's arteries flowing with everything we all need and want. We hope that every driver on the road will find time between June 1 and June 21 to stop for half an hour, get on the Internet, and take this lesson. Together, we can greatly reduce our industry's fuel costs."

To take advantage of this offer, drivers simply have to go to www.ProTread.com and follow the very simple sign-in instructions. They'll be taking the lesson within a minute of arriving at the website, and completion takes about half an hour. All fleet owners and managers are encouraged to get the word out to all their drivers.

ITI is the leading provider of computer-based, interactive driver training in our industry, offering in-cab truck-driver training to over 185 carriers, with from 15 to 44,000 drivers. ITI now trains over 35,000 drivers every month in the U.S. and Canada. Carriers monitor and document their drivers' training records on the private, secure, on-line database that ITI provides to each client. This documentation can be invaluable during litigation, providing powerful risk management.

Drivers can select from some 50 interactive lessons anywhere/anytime over the Internet, including via in-cab computers. Courses include such critical areas as Defensive Driving, Winter Driving, Backing, Accident Procedures, Hours-of-Service and Logbooks, Fuel Management, Fatigue Management, OSHA and Workplace Safety, Tanker lessons, and all of the federally required entry level courses.

We're happy to help ITI help you instruct your drivers on ways to mitigate the impact of the fuel crisis and encourage you to get the word out to all your employees about the free Internet fuel management training.

The Truckload Carriers Association is also developing a fuel economy resource on their web site and has asked to link to fuel-related editorial provided by HDT and other trucking publishers. You can access it at www.truckload.org