Across the country, gas stations are facing gas shortages, which are now helping drive up fuel prices to a seven-year high. Experts predict the situation to worsen as more than 40 million Americans will hit the road for the upcoming Fourth Of July holiday weekend.
Fuel Prices At Seven-Year Highs
As of yesterday, nationwide average fuel prices (regular unleaded gallon) hit $3.09. According to data from the American Automobile Association (AAA), this is the highest price recorded since 2014.
The AAA also predicts that around 43.6 million Americans will take a road trip this weekend. This will help pump up prices to an even higher rate. In fact, some stations in Los Angeles, California are already selling gas near $6 per gallon.
“Today, 89 percent of US gas stations are selling regular unleaded for $2.75 or more. That is a stark increase over last July 4 when only a quarter of stations were selling gas for more than $2.25. Road trippers will pay the most to fill up for the holiday since 2014,” said AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee.
Shortage of Fuel Truck Drivers
Prices continue to skyrocket amid surging demand as Americans continue to take longer trips. In addition, a shortage of licensed fuel truck drivers is leaving many gas stations in various areas short on stock.
According to Patrick DeHaan, spokesperson for Gas Buddy, there are reported shortages in the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio.
Tom Kloza, energy analyst global head for Oil Price Information Service, tracks the prices for AAA. “It used to be an afterthought for station owners to schedule truck deliveries.
Now it’s job No. 1,” he noted. “What I’m worried about for July is the increased demand works out to about 2,500 to 3,000 more deliveries needed every day. There just aren’t the drivers to do that,” he added.
20-25% of Tanker Trucks Don’t Have A Driver
With the shortage of truck drivers, retailers, food shop owners, and others all struggle with a fading supply chain. However, drivers for fuel trucks require distinct certifications.
This limits the supply of ready and qualified fuel truck drivers who can help augment shortages. Industry trade group The National Tank Truck Carriers estimates that between 20-25% of tank trucks nationwide are parked due to a shortage of qualified drivers.
“We’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it,” said Ryan Streblow, executive vice president of the NTTC. “It certainly has grown exponentially,” he added.
Demand For Fuel Has Yet To Reach Its Peak
Even more worrisome is the fact that demand has yet to peak for fuel. “I don’t think demand has reached a peak yet,” DeHaan noted. He also said that there is a growing number of stations running low on fuel.
However, he said he cannot get a precise count right now. “It’s hard to predict where the challenges are,” he said. “It’s just randomized pockets in cities both small and large.”
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Do you have travel plans for this July 4th weekend? Given the present state of high prices and low stocks, will you change your plans?
In addition, do you think fuel prices will fall to lower levels once truck drivers show up en masse?
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