People planning a vacation in the US this summer might get a nasty surprise. Industry experts say there is a threat of gas shortages, especially in vacation hotspots, due to a lack of tanker drivers to deliver fuel.
According to the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) – an industry group that advocates for tank truck companies and has over 200 companies on their books – almost a quarter of the tanks in their fleet are currently sitting idle, waiting for drivers. CNN was the first to cover the news.
NTTC experts told CNN that the pandemic was primarily responsible for this. When the journey came to a standstill and the demand for gasoline decreased, the drivers were out of work. Many took this “as an opportunity to retire” rather than retraining to start delivering Amazon parcels. Holly McCormick, head of the NTTC staff committee, told CNN.
“We even moved boxes for Amazon to keep our drivers busy,” said Holly McCormick, vice president of driver recruitment and retention at Groendyke Transport, an Oklahoma tanker company. “A lot of drivers didn’t want to adhere to the safety protocols. We also work with an aging workforce. Many said, “I might as well use retirement as a cue.”
Not every truck driver is allowed to drive a tanker. It requires specialized certification, including a commercial driver’s license, and weeks of post-hire training. And while the jobs are more attractive than some long-haul trucking jobs that can keep drivers away from home for days or weeks, it is a strenuous and difficult job.
Vacation hotspots are most at risk of shortages, and some sporadic outages were reported in Florida, Arizona, and northwest Missouri over the past spring break, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the oil price intelligence service. But even if only a few gas stations run out of gas, it could lead to a gas supply as drivers fill up their tanks so they don’t run dry down the street, Kloza said.
“Imagine hoarding toilet paper and filling gas tanks that we see after hurricanes and you can see what could happen,” Kloza said. The problem is made worse by strong demand for gas, which is forecast to exceed 10 million barrels a day in various locations for the first time this summer.