Americans looking to take road trips this summer should possibly reconsider their plans because experts say the U.S. may soon face a gas shortage.
While there remains plenty of gas to go around, the issue lies in a lack of drivers to actually get the fuel from refineries to service stations, the industry trade group National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) said in a recent report, according to NBC News.
"Trucking's driver shortage already exceeds 50,000 drivers," the NTTC reportedly said in the report. "The trucking industry's workforce shortage is not confined to drivers alone. Trucking companies also require dispatchers and back office staff. Trained mechanics are also in short supply. Tank truck operations face further critical shortages of registered inspectors and design-certified engineers who can inspect and repair cargo tank truck trailers."
NTTC Executive Vice President Ryan Streblow told CNN that the industry has been dealing with driver shortages for a while, and the issue has "grown exponentially" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While just 10 percent of tank trucks in the NTTC fleet were parked at this point in 2019, between 20 and 25 percent are currently sitting idle, according to CNN.
"We were even hauling boxes for Amazon just to keep our drivers busy," Holly McCormick, vice president in charge of driver recruitment and retention at Groendyke Transport in Oklahoma, told the outlet. "A lot of drivers didn't want to do the safety protocols. We're also working with an aging work force. Many said, 'I might as well take it as a cue to retire.'"
McCormick, who also runs the NTTC workforce committee, told CNN that she has had to double her recruiting budget to get the same number of drivers, as they're hoping that a boost in pay will attract workers, many of whom have left for jobs in other industries like construction.
In addition to low pay, the industry trade group ATA also cited long hours and an aging workforce as reasons for the short supply, NBC News reported.
Other snags reportedly include the fact that a special certification is required to drive the trucks in addition to a basic commercial license, and the fact that many driver schools were closed down early in the pandemic.
According to ATA, data reportedly shows that about 70 percent of tanker drivers quit the business or changed jobs during the pandemic.
Though gas prices dropped as traffic dipped during the pandemic and people stayed inside their homes, prices have been on the rise, and the lack of drivers has already led to gas shortages in places like Florida, Arizona and Missouri, according to NBC News.