Signs All Point to a Gasoline Shortage This Summer, CNN Warns

    While shortages of various items have been a bit of a theme during the pandemic, the reasons (aside from COVID itself) have sometimes been different. Personal hoarding affected our ability to buy toilet paper and yeast last year, changes in travel are affecting availability of rental cars, and semiconductor chips are in short supply because of silicon plant production changes. In yet another twist, this summer could see a shortage of gasoline because there aren’t enough delivery drivers.

    That’s the word from CNN Business, which noted that the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) trade group said around 20 to 25 percent of tank trucks will not be moving gasoline this summer because there aren’t enough qualified drivers. It takes more training to drive a truckload of gasoline down the road than other cargo, and CNN said not every driver wants to take the required tests and get certified to move gasoline.

    The problem, as with so many shortages the world is facing in 2021, was partly set into motion early in the pandemic. That’s when truck driver schools closed, for obvious reasons, but it means that there are simply fewer new drivers coming up now. And a NTTC representative told CNN that somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 truck drivers are no longer able to drive because of a new federal program that identified their history of prior drug or alcohol violations, which went online in January 2020. Even with offers of higher pay, it appears there simply won’t be enough drivers to get all of the gasoline in the U.S. where it needs to go this summer.

    Combine that with an expected increase in road trip plans this summer (CNN said there are more hotel rooms being booked than airline tickets, implying more people will be driving instead of flying soon), and you have the potential for gas prices to spike when summer hits.

    Electric-vehicle drivers, filling up their batteries with their cords, have found a better way, but even if you’re not personally reliant on gasoline for your car, you may still feel a pinch this year. The California Farm Bureau says food processors are worried there won’t be enough drivers to move goods from field to plant. In the food hauling business, too, the number of available drivers is somewhere between 25 and 35 percent lower than the companies would like to see, and it could get worse.

    “We could be seeing a 50, up to 60 percent, need for drivers for this harvest season,” the senior vice president of government affairs for the California Trucking Association, Eric Sauer, told AgAlert.

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