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A gas shortage this summer isn't caused by what you think it is

The potential gas shortage is not because of a lack of gasoline.
Credit: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File

Millions of Americans are expected to take a post-pandemic vacation this summer, but that big road trip could get stalled by a gas shortage.

But that gas shortage is not because of a lack of gasoline. The problem is there aren't enough tanker truck drivers to get that gasoline to gas stations.

New data shows 20 to 25% of tanker truck carriers are sitting idle because there aren't enough qualified drivers.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many commercial truck drivers into early retirement. Plus, driving a tanker truck is extremely difficult. It requires special certification and weeks-worth of training, even after being hired.

Many commercial truck driving schools shut down during the pandemic, which cut down the pool of new drivers being trained to replace those retiring. 

Another reason for higher prices is actually good news: more people are getting vaccinated against coronavirus. As more shots go into arms, Americans are itching to hit the road. All that travel will send gas prices back up. Experts also expect to also see a travel surge when and if Americans get another stimulus check.

The last reason is an annual event: the switch over to summertime blends of gas. It usually happens in March. The higher-grade gasoline used during the summer costs more to produce and always bumps up prices at the pump. Both AAA and Gas Buddy warn all these factors could send gas to three dollars a gallon by Memorial Day.

Experts say vacation hot spots like Florida are most likely to see the shortages.