A shortage of tanker truck drivers may lead to rising gas prices and even dry pumps at fueling stations, experts warn as many Americans are back on the road and gearing up for the summer travel season, NBC News reports.
Truck drivers, in general, have been in increasingly short supply in recent years. Older drivers are retiring and, facing long hours and relatively low pay, it has been difficult to recruit new ones, said the American Trucking Associations, an industry trade group. Complicating matters is the fact that driving a tanker full of fuel requires more training and additional certification to operate the dangerous haul.
Last year, the pandemic sidelined drivers as fuel demand dropped, causing many more drivers to leave the industry. And the schools that could train new drivers were closed for public health reasons, compounding the labor shortage. Also in 2020, a new federal registry debuted. It identified drivers who have had issues with alcohol or drugs. As many as 60,000 of them are no longer available as a result.
There have already been spot shortages in Florida, Arizona and Missouri due to a lack of tank truck drivers. On Friday, AAA reported the national average for gas prices ticked up to $2.89 for a gallon of unleaded regular. Experts forecast the upward trend will continue.