HOUSTON - The summer travel months could include a shortage of gasoline. It's not because there isn't enough fuel, but instead, a challenge getting it to the pump.
It's a lingering effect of the pandemic when people stopped driving and oil prices plummeted.
A lot of specialized tanker-truck drivers, with little to haul, moved on to other jobs to stay employed.
As a result, the National Tank Truck Carriers trade group says about 25% of their rigs will be sidelined this summer, because there aren't enough qualified drivers to get the job done.
That means less gas at the pump and higher prices for what's there. An industry analyst tells Fox Business, the national average price for regular unleaded could hit $3.50 gallon.
Lone Star College has a program that teaches people to be truck drivers. They say hauling fuel and other hazardous materials requires extra training.
"(With) tanker drivers, your load is always moving," says instructor Jeff Joubert, "Even in baffled-trailers; compartmentalized trailers, it's always moving."
Jahonn Robinson expects to be one of those drivers. He takes his licensing test in a week and should be driving a rig soon after.
Nationally, there's a shortage of tens of thousands of truck drivers, beyond the fuel hauler shortage. Those with the drive say it's an easy decision to hit the road.
"There's a shortage of truck drivers, right now, and I see a good opportunity to make money in truck driving," says Robinson.
Meeting the need for hauling fuel and hazardous material only makes those drivers more valuable.
"Once they do get their license, then they can apply for their endorsements for HAZMAT and they will be a complete and well-rounded driver," says Joubert.
The Lone Star College program, that prepares students to earn a commercial drivers license, can be completed in as little as seven weeks.
Analysts say the summer gas shortage should materialize first in popular summer destinations and radiate from there.