SOUTH COLORADO, Colorado (KRDO) – Motorists in southern Colorado are reporting gas stations are running out of fuel. Drivers from Pueblo and Cañon City have contacted AAA, which reports that this is a national trend.
Skylar McKinley, regional director of public affairs for AAA Colorado, says there is no shortage of gasoline, but there is a shortage of drivers.
While southern Colorado is currently feeling the effects of a nationwide shortage of tanker drivers, industry officials say they expected it to happen.
The National Tank Truck Carriers, the industry’s trade group, reported in April that between 20% and 25% of tankers were parked due to a lack of qualified drivers. Compared to just 10% of trucks parked at the same time in 2019.
“We were dealing with a shortage of drivers for a while, but the pandemic has taken that problem and metastasized it, ”said Ryan Streblow, executive vice president of the NTTC. “It has certainly increased exponentially. “
Holly McCormick, vice president of driver recruitment and retention at Groendyke Transport, said some aging drivers who worked before the pandemic have chosen to retire instead of returning to work.
According to the NTTC, the pandemic has also prematurely closed many driving schools, preventing new drivers from obtaining certification. Driving a tank truck requires special certification and even weeks of training after being hired.
McKinley wants residents of southern Colorado not to panic, saying there is enough gas and the shortage of drivers is temporary. In April, NTTC said tanker operators were raising wages to try to fill seats for their drivers.
As of yet, it’s unclear when exactly the pilot shortage will be resolved.