Gas stations across the country are running out of gasoline just as 43 million Americans are preparing to hit the road for the July 4th holiday weekend.
Those that do manage to find gas are likely to find some of the highest prices in almost seven years, with gas now averaging $3.10 a gallon across the US – the highest since October 2014.
Demand has rocked since last summer as COVID-weary Americans hit the road again, although the current shortages are being caused by a lack of available truckers to deliver fuel.
The prices are also up 42% compared to a year ago when the pandemic sent gas prices plunging following an enormous drop-off in demand.
Currently, the outages are not centered in one place with stations running dry in the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Colorado and Iowa as well as Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio.
‘It used to be an afterthought for station owners to schedule truck deliveries. Now it’s job No. 1,’ said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service.
‘What I’m worried about for July is the increased demand works out to about 2,500 to 3,000 more deliveries needed every day. There just aren’t the drivers to do that.’
Although a shortage of drivers is a problem throughout the trucking industry, special qualifications are needed to drive a gas tank and finding new drivers is no easy task.
The pandemic saw a number of tank truck drivers retiring with others moving to other trucking jobs after the demand in gasoline dropped so suddenly.
National Tank Truck Carriers estimates 20% to 25% of tank trucks across the country are currently parked up.
‘We’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for awhile, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it,’ said Ryan Streblow to CNN, the executive vice president of the NTTC. ‘It certainly has grown exponentially.’
Although the demand for gasoline is similar to 2019 pre-pandemic, demand is up 16% compared to the end of last year.
AAA is forecasting more than 43 million people to hit the road this Fourth of July weekend with the 2019 record – which saw 41.4 million Americans hit the road – likely to be broken.