Lack of truck drivers could lead to fuel shortage this summer

(NEW YORK)– As millions of Americans return to driving and planning summer road trips, experts are warning that some gas stations could face fuel shortages.

“We are not looking at a shortage of gasoline,” Jeanette McGee, a AAA spokesperson, said in an interview with ABC News. “In fact, we have ample supply in the United States to get through the summer and the rest of the year. What the concern is right now is a shortage of fuel truck drivers.”

First reported by CNN, the National Tank Truck Carriers, the industry’s trade group, said that between 20% and 25% of tank trucks in the fleet are parked.

“Last year, during the pandemic, many of the drivers retired or they went to different industries, and that created a shortage,” McGee said.

Truck drivers also need special training to haul oil, and some driving schools have closed amid the pandemic, exacerbating the problem.

Some areas have begun to see the effects of the driver shortage, particularly Las Vegas and northwest Arkansas. McGee said vacation hotspots, near beaches or in the mountains in particular, could feel the biggest effects.

“We know that with high demand coming because of the summer travel season, we could see it happen a little bit more frequently, especially in those cities or metro areas where you’re going to see tourists,” McGee said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gasoline index rose 9.1% in March. The average across the country was $2.94 a gallon in April, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association.

McGee said travelers shouldn’t frequently top off their tanks in fear of any potential shortages.

“Be smart about when you’re filling up,” she added. “Keep an eye on your gas tank. When it gets to a quarter of a tank, consider going to the gas station.”

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