LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — A nationwide shortage of truck drivers could lead to higher prices at the gas pump. The average gallon of gas costs just under $3, which’s expected to rise if the shortage continues, according to AAA.
The trucker shortage is being attributed to commercial driver’s license wait times, which is taking even longer than normal due to the pandemic, and the problem could cause drivers to look for different careers.
Luis Meza, operations manager of the California Truck Driving Academy, says anyone who goes through training is practically guaranteed a job with starting pay of at least $25 an hour.
“It’s very essential; he could find a job the next day. If you don’t like the job, you don’t like how they’re treating you, you could simply quit one day and then find somebody else who’ll pick you up right off the bat, Meza said. “It’s never gonna stop; you need truck drivers.”
Those in the trucking industry say 90% of trucking companies are looking for more drivers. The pandemic prompted many to pull over for good.
“We have a lot of drivers who came into this industry in the 90s who are all retiring now, and we don’t have a lot of younger folks that are wanting to get into this industry to drive a truck and be gone driving goods across the country,” said Matt Hart, with the Illinois Trucking Association.
A shortage of tanker truck drivers in particular has fueled concern over gas shortages and higher prices.
GasBuddy, a mobile app and data firm, predicts a national average of over $3 a gallon this summer — with limited supply at popular destinations.
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“Whether that be Americans flocking to say Orlando to go to Disney World, or to the West Coast to Los Angeles, you may see these local areas where there is an influx of tourists,” said Patrick Dehaan, a GasBuddy petroleum analysis. “Yosemite, Yellowstone, areas that are not necessarily prepared for an onslaught of motorists may be the areas most susceptible to these types of limited disruptions.”
AAA is warning travelers not to overreact. They say the fear of a gas shortage can create a gas shortage.
“It’s so important that we don’t panic buy, you know, like what we felt during the pandemic where people rushing out to buy the toilet paper and then you had no toilet paper shortage on that,” said Doug Shupe with AAA Southern California. “We just encourage people to just you act as they normally would.”
AAA has not released their summer predictions yet, but epic numbers are expected on the roads. Cooped-up Americans are vaccinated and ready to roll.
“So we anticipate that this is going to be possibly our record-breaking year when it comes to travel during the summer season and also during the fall in the winter season,” Shupe said.
That means a continued need to move more consumer goods and fuel. As a result, truckers will be in the driver’s seat in more ways than one.
“Every student that’s went through our program has been offered a job before they even leave,” said Curt Robinson, the truck training program director at Lincoln Land Community College. “The demand is just so high most of them will have multiple job offers.
Higher gas prices are among the factors driving sales of eclectic-powered vehicles. Thought according to J.D. Power, car sales are up overall, partly due to the pandemic and people wanting to avoid public transportation. Of course, that means higher demand for gas.
The highest average price in the nation right now is $4.04 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area. The lowest average is $2.49 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The average price of diesel is unchanged over the same period, at $3.13.