Just In Time For Summer Road Trip Season, Experts Predicting A Gas Shortage
This is not the news I want to hear as I look forward to summer road trip season.
As I, and most other people, make plans to get out and travel this summer after a year of pandemic restrictions, it sounds like there could be a gas shortage that will make those travel plans more expensive or even worse, harder to accomplish all together.
Just as there have been several other shortages brought on by the pandemic, CNN Business is reporting we could see a gas shortage - but it isn't because there is a lack of crude oil or gasoline out there. It's because there's a lack of people to deliver that fuel to gas stations.
The story from CNN Business cites information from the trade organization National Tank Truck Carriers that somewhere between 1/5 to 1/4 of the gas truck fleet is sitting idle right now because of a lack of qualified drivers. The story explains that in pre-pandemic 2019 that there was a shortage that had about 10% of the fleet parked, but the pandemic made the issue significantly worse.
Driving a tanker truck, as you might expect, requires a bunch of additional training and certifications, which makes hiring these particular drivers more difficult than other types of truckers.
The lack of qualified drivers combined with increased demand for fuel as people are traveling more is creating a perfect storm of sorts that could make finding gasoline harder in certain places across the country that have higher demand, such as larger cities and popular travel destinations.
Experts in the CNN Business piece further explain that (pardon the pun) adding more fuel to that fire; as people get the sense there is a shortage, there could be a run on gasoline among consumers. Similar to the way consumers flocked to stock up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer last year, there is a concern consumers may try stocking up on gasoline.
Trucking companies are walking a fine line of trying to incentivize drivers with higher wages, while not going too far, as those costs are then passed along to the consumer in the form of higher gas prices.
This doesn't paint a rosy outlook for summer travel, or realistically many sectors of the economy - almost all of which are impacted by fuel as a means of transporting people or goods. Here's hoping the people that know way more about this stuff than I do are able to find a way to navigate this not-great situation as soon as possible.