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No, there's not a gas shortage. It's a truck driver shortage leaving some pumps empty

Posted at 10:52 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 08:53:58-04

The demand for gas has gone up, as AAA predicts Americans will take roughly 700 million trips this summer, most of them by car. But what some consumers have experienced as a recent "gas shortage" -- resulting in bagged and "out-of-order" pumps -- actually isn't a gas shortage at all: It's a truck driver shortage.

"No need to freak out," said Jenifer Moore, a spokesperson for AAA. "No need to get out the gas cans to fill those up at all."

Moore said that, while gas supply is actually adequate, suppliers are having trouble transporting the fuel to their stations.

"When demand dropped off significantly last year during the height of the pandemic, many drivers were laid off or they found employment in other industries in need of drivers. So these situations are temporary; they are not shortages."

CNN first reported on the issue back in April, when the trade group "National Tank Truck Carriers" said up to 25% of tanker trucks were parked heading into summer. This was simply because there weren't enough drivers -- meaning fuel can be delayed getting to gas stations.

"The driver shortage is really across industries. We're seeing the impact in several different sectors of our economy right now," said Alex Boehnke, manager of public affairs for the Ohio Council of Research Merchants.

Boehnke said the pandemic heightened an already-existing problem.

"The pandemic has certainly exacerbated that problem," he said. "Driver schools were shut down like so many other things, so there's an impact there. But there are also issues certainly with finding reliable drivers and people that want to do those types of jobs, even before the pandemic started. It's kind of, unfortunately, it's a problem to begin with and it's gotten a little worse."

In Cincinnati, however, he said the problem is fairly isolated, so residents shouldn't panic. Though gas stations may run low, there's no shortage of gas and typically delays in delivery only last a day or two.

To be on the safe side, though, Moore recommends drivers never let their gas tank drop below a quarter of a tank.