SOUTHERN COLORADO, Colo. (KRDO) -- Motorists in Southern Colorado are reporting gas stations are out of fuel. Drivers in Pueblo and Cañon City have reached out to AAA, who report this is a national trend.
Well into Saturday night, drivers reported long lines as people panic bought gasoline.
Skylar McKinley, Regional Director of Public Affairs for AAA Colorado, says there isn't a gas shortage, but there is a driver shortage.
While Southern Colorado is just now feeling the effects of a national tanker truck driver shortage, industry officials say they were expecting this to happen.
The National Tank Truck Carriers, the industry's trade group, reported back in April between 20% and 25% of tank trucks were parked due to a lack of qualified drivers. Compared to only 10% of trucks being parked at the same time in 2019.
“We’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it,” said Ryan Streblow, the executive vice president of the NTTC. “It certainly has grown exponentially.”
Holly McCormick, vice president in charge of driver recruitment and retention at Groendyke Transport, said some aging drivers who were working pre-pandemic chose to retire instead of returning to work.
According to NTTC, the pandemic also shut down many driver schools early, hindering new drivers from becoming certified. Driving a tanker truck requires special certification and even weeks of training after being hired.
McKinley wants Southern Coloradoans to not panic, saying there is enough gas and the driver shortage is temporary. In April, NTTC said Tanker operators were raising pay to try to fill their drivers' seats.
For now, there's no word on when exactly the driver shortage will be resolved.
KRDO also spoke to a fuel distribution company in Denver who said there is a problem with the pipeline that brings gas from Denver to the Fountain area, where it's loaded into trucks. If that's the case, the company said it might take a few days to repair.
AAA asks people to not panic-buy gas. However, for many people, that's no longer an option considering many pumps have run dry.
People in Pueblo and Cañon City are reporting widespread outages, while Woodland Park and Colorado Springs have some pumps out and others working.