WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - A record number of drivers are expected to hit the road this Fourth of July weekend, but a truck driver shortage could also lead to a fuel shortage at some gas stations.
"Many of the drivers that were driving gas tankers to fill up gas and deliver gas to stations were laid off during COVID-19, took buyouts, or found better-paying jobs with less regulation. Now with an increased demand for fuel, the industry is feeling the driver shortage," Phil Flynn an energy analyst with The PRICE Futures group said.
According to AAA, nearly 45 million Americans will travel by car this weekend. That’s over 40 percent more than last year and with more people at the pump, the more tank truck drivers are needed to refill supply.
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"What’s going to happen is these tankers have to make round trips filling up the tanks, and if they don’t have enough drivers, that’s where the problem sets in. That can lead to some stations running out of gasoline," Flynn said.
But Patrick De Haan with Gas Buddy says it won’t be anything like the shortage seen last month during the Colonial Pipeline hack.
"This is more like delivery delays. It’s possible that you encounter a station that’s experiencing a delivery delay. It may last only a couple of hours or maybe a day. But what all Americans will encounter is some of the highest gas prices for July 4 that we’ve seen in recent years," De Haan said.
According to Gas Buddy, the average price of gas in the U.S. Is up 42 percent compared to last year.
"The reason for why they’ve gone up so significantly has to go back to the early stages of the pandemic. When demand for gasoline plummeted, prices plummeted and the oil industry made a lot of decisions to scale back production in those early days. Now, demand is up. Supply is up a little bit but nearly as much as demand. That’s a problem that will likely stick around not only in the summer but potentially the years ahead until oil production gets up to pre-pandemic levels," De Haan said.
So far, only a few gas stations across the country have experienced a shortage due to delivery issues ahead of the holiday weekend and experts are warning people not to panic.