Lack of Truck Drivers Could Cause a Gas Shortage This Summer

Scharfsinn via Deposit Photos

Last summer, many Americans canceled their vacation plans and stayed home during the pandemic. Missing out on everything from family reunions and tropical vacations was far from ideal, but it was the safest solution.

A year later, with anyone 16+ eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, summer travel is looking a lot safer. After a really, tough and truly unprecedented year, a vacation is probably exactly what a lot of people need.

If your travel plans involve a road trip, you might be disappointed when you go to fill up at the pump. It’s highly possible that gas prices are going to go up as demand for gas increases over the summer months.

The problem isn’t exactly a shortage in available gas. The problem is getting the gas to the gas stations. In order to get the gas to the gas stations, someone has to drive a tanker truck to transport the gas. It’s not the gas that’s in short supply, but qualified truck drivers are in short supply.

The National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) reports that about 20% to 25% of the tanker trucks are currently parked and not being used. Ryan Streblow is the NTTC’s executive vice president. Streblow explained, “We’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it. It certainly has grown exponentially.”

The reason there’s a driver shortage is related to the pandemic. Remember when we mentioned that many people canceled their travel plans and stayed home instead? That resulted in very low demand for gas and very low demand for truck drivers. An Oklahoma tanker company named Groendyke Transport even delivered boxes for Amazon for awhile just to give their drivers something to do.

Many drivers chose to leave the tanker industry since there wasn’t much work available. Now that the demand for gas is increasing again, that’s a problem that will probably result in a higher price tag at the pump.

In order to try to recruit new drivers, tanker companies are increasing how much they pay, but getting hired isn’t as easy as just being interested in filling the driver’s seat. A qualified driver has to have a commercial drivers license as well as go through weeks of training.

The average price per gallon of gas in the United States is $2.89 per gallon. It’s highly possible that the national average will go up to $3 by this summer.

Do you have summer travel plans? Would higher gas prices make you rethink a road trip?