Here's why there could be gas shortages this summer

Thursday, May 6, 2021
Could fuel truck driver shortage lead to gas shortages?
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Some experts fear a lack of fuel truck drivers could lead to gas shortages this summer.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some experts fear a lack of fuel truck drivers could lead to gas shortages this summer.

This as demand will likely increase with more people again taking road trips.

"With that spike in demand, our capacity hasn't necessarily caught up in terms of fuel truck drivers, and so that's where the worry is around this potential shortage that some people think may occur this summer," said Tim Kraft, a supply chain expert at NC State University.

Kraft said demand for gas went down during the pandemic so some drivers retired or got out of the industry.

A spokeswoman for AAA Carolinas said they expect a busy summer travel season. As demand increases, the spokeswoman said so do prices at the pump.

Christina Walton is a single mom who works washing cars.

She drives her SUV from Sampson County to Raleigh for work and said she spends about $100 a week on gas.

If prices go up, she said that will affect her family.

"Me personally, as a single mother, it's going to affect me a lot because the extra money that I would have, I would have to put it in gas," Walton said.

Charlie Gray, the owner of Carolina Trucking Academy in Raleigh, acknowledges there's a significant truck driver shortage.

"I think the driver shortage is certainly affecting the availability supply and demand," Gray said. "Thus, the price of any commodity that's delivered by a truck. That certainly includes gas."

The AAA Carolinas spokeswoman said if there are gas shortages, they'll likely be in high travel destination areas like the beach or mountains and likely not last more than a day. She added there have been tanker driver shortages for the last several years.

"There may be shortages and that's really the uncertainty around the fuel truck drivers," Kraft said. "Will we have enough capacity around fuel truck drivers to get the gasoline out to all the different stations? And really that's the part that's hard to project. I think really the most likely and risky areas are going to be the hotspots, the travel hotspots, the Floridas, where you're going to see this large increase in consumers or people that travel to Florida. That's where the potential risk for shortages is going to happen."

AAA Carolinas is urging everybody not to panic buy or top off when unnecessary since that could create shortages.