Stock photo

Stock photo

Shortage of truck drivers causing fuel shortages at gas stations

Suppliers struggle to keep up with increasing demand for fuel from travelers by car

State leaders are encouraging travelers by car to plan ahead as the increased demand comes at a time fuel stations nationwide are grappling with delays in fuel delivery caused by an ongoing shortage of truck drivers.

Memorial Day is approaching, bringing with it the unofficial launch of the spring and summer travel season. While air travel is steadily increasing, a larger-than-average number of travelers are expected to travel by car due to the pandemic, according to a state Department of Commerce May 18 news release.

“People are eager to travel, and because of the pandemic we’re expecting to see a lot more folks making stops at gas stations,” said Elizabeth King, state Energy Emergency Management director at the state Department of Commerce. “While fuel supplies are healthy, gas stations are sometimes seeing a delay in fuel deliveries so we want people to be prepared in case they have to make a few stops.”

King emphasizes the cybersecurity pipeline incident impacting fuel supplies in some states on the eastern side of the country is not impacting supplies in Washington state and is wholly separate from the delivery issue.

“Fuel supply is not an issue in our state,” King said. “We’ve been experiencing delays in fuel deliveries for quite some time. It’s the increased demand that is just now making the impact more visible to consumers.”

King says there are three things drivers can do to plan ahead:

• Before heading out, add an app to your smartphone that helps you quickly and easily find nearby gas stations. This can be especially helpful when stopping through an unfamiliar town or city.

• Don’t let your tank drop below a quarter tank. You may come across gas stations that are closed while they wait for their next fuel delivery, so be sure you don’t put yourself in a position where you can’t get yourself to another station for a refill.

• Be courteous and don’t buy more than you need. Fuel supplies are healthy and deliveries are on the way so fill up your tank and then get back on the the road so the driver waiting behind you can do the same.

Sheri Call, executive vice president of the Washington Trucking Association, says the shortage of professional commercial truck drivers is due to drivers aging out and retiring in greater numbers than are coming into the industry.

“Beyond fuel deliveries, this is putting the continuity of the nation’s supply chain at risk,” Call said. “COVID-19 made the problem worse. The temporary closures of state motor vehicle offices and truck driver training schools decimated the already fragile pipeline of new drivers entering the workforce.”

Over 70% of the nation’s freight is carried by commercial truck. In Washington state, 80% of communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods.

Call says companies are responding by raising driver pay and improving benefit programs to attract and retain drivers. She says this is an exciting time for anyone interested in entering the field. The industry is transitioning into a high-tech future with heavy duty zero emission trucks soon to be available, and autonomous operations of commercial trucks that will likely need a new kind of operator behind the wheel. But drivers aren’t the only ones keeping goods moving on the road.

“The trucking industry has so many opportunities beyond professional driver,” said Call. ”The industry employs one in 20 Washingtonians in a myriad of roles including compliance experts, safety and risk management experts, fleet maintenance, dispatch, sales, administrative and support staff. These folks are all instrumental in ensuring the safe and efficient movement of goods. It’s a great time to join our ranks.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
Shopping cart protests cost Federal Way taxpayers thousands of dollars

Residents pressure city to clean up homeless encampments

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17, 2020. Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan
Vaccination data reveals disparities among regions and race

South King County and certain minority groups are far behind on COVID-19 vaccine goals.

SKFR photo
3 deaths in one week along stretch of Federal Way road

Mayor seeking roadway safety changes along Pacific Highway South from WSDOT

A protective mask hanging on a front door. (Sound Publishing file photo)
King County to lift indoor mask mandate on June 29

About 1.3 million county residents have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series.

File photo
King County leaders propose emergency funding for gun violence prevention initiative

Sixty-nine people were reportedly shot during the first quarter of 2021.

Pills taken during police investigation (photo credit: Bellevue Police)
Renton man charged with homicide after selling fentanyl pills to a Bellevue woman

Law enforcement warns of an alarming increase in fentanyl deaths.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo Tags
King County libraries move to Phase 4 this month

Libraries across King County will advance to Phase 4 on June 30,… Continue reading

t
King County Council approves facial recognition technology ban

Software ban applies to King County Sheriff’s Office

t
PSE’s electric customer rates increasing slightly

The new rates will go into effect July 1

Most Read