Gas prices have hit a seven-year high and experts predict even more pain at the pump as record numbers of Americans are poised to hit the road around Independence Day weekend.
“At $3.09, the national gas price average is at its highest of the year and not stopping,” the American Automobile Association (AAA) said in a release Tuesday.
“That average will increase, possibly as much as another nickel, in the lead up to the Independence Day holiday weekend as AAA forecasts a record-breaking 43.6 million Americans will hit the road for a holiday getaway,” the group added.
“Road trippers will pay the most to fill up for the holiday since 2014,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson.
The last time that average gas prices saw similar levels was in October 2014, when they were at $3.171 per gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
According to the AAA, the national average gas price over the Independence Day holiday weekend in 2014 stood at $3.66 per gallon.
While there have been reports of some gas stations running out of gas ahead of the Independence Day holiday weekend, what’s behind it is not a fuel supply crunch but a shortage of truck drivers to make timely deliveries, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
“There is not a ‘gas shortage,'” De Haan said in a blog post. “Refiners are producing just 3.7 percent less gasoline than all-time records. The problem isn’t gasoline supply. The problem is there aren’t enough truck drivers to keep up with deliveries, made worse by the pandemic as some truckers left for jobs elsewhere or were let go.”
De Haan said he has noted delays in gasoline deliveries, but added that this has affected “very few stations” and “there isn’t much rhyme or reason to the locations.”
He said people shouldn’t be too concerned about finding gas stations empty.
“If you see a station with bagged pumps, it’s likely they’ll have gas in a few hours again, just try the next station,” De Haan said.
But Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service, which tracks prices for AAA, told CNN that, given the trucker shortage, gas stations are having a harder time scheduling deliveries to ensure they don’t run out.
“It used to be an afterthought for station owners to schedule truck deliveries. Now it’s job No. 1,” Kloza told the outlet.