Out of Delivery Drivers and Out of Gas

Out of Delivery Drivers and Out of Gas


Gas prices have been going up, and this trend is expected to continue.

Usually, oil shortages fuel this phenomenon, but today, there is an abundant oil supply. The weak link is somewhere else in the supply chain: delivery from refineries to gas stations. During the pandemic, tanker drivers quit their jobs and changed careers. As people are starting to travel again, it is difficult to fill these positions, and the shortage of drivers is being felt at the pump.



Video Spotlight: No Panic at the Gas Pump

This post is based on the NBC News article, Shortage of Delivery Drivers Means Some Gas Station Pumps Could Run Dry, by P.A. Eisenstein, April 28, 2021, and the YouTube video, Experts Say Drivers Won’t See Difference at Gas Pumps Despite Fuel Driver Shortage, by WBIR Channel 10, April 30, 2021. Image source: kabby/Shutterstock.

Discussion Questions:

1. Describe the widespread workforce shortage in the trucking industry. How does it impact the availability of fuel at gas stations?

Guidance: The shortage of drivers is exacerbated by shortages of dispatchers and office staff, qualified mechanics, registered inspectors, and design-certified engineers. The lack of capacity has created a bottleneck which limits the quantity and speed of deliveries to gas stations.

2. What factors explain the shortage of truck drivers?

Guidance: The shortage of drivers is not new. There are several factors that explain this phenomenon. Older drivers have been retiring. When the pandemic hit, truck drivers quit their jobs or were laid off because of low demand for their services. Today, as demand picks up, it is challenging to recruit new ones because of relatively low pay, difficult working conditions, extra certification requirements, and exclusion of drivers with alcohol or drug problems.

3. In the video, people are urged not to change their consumption habits despite the higher prices. Why?

Guidance: A sudden drop in consumption could have a bullwhip effect. The lower demand at the pump would have a strong, negative impact on the hiring of delivery truck drivers, which would intensify the shortage. The decrease in demand would also be felt at other links of the supply chain and could impede the economic recovery in this sector.


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