As things started opening back up after so many COVID-19 closures, people once again began to feel more comfortable with the idea of traveling. The good news is that business operating hours, security protocols and supply chains started returning to more normal pre-pandemic status.
As travel increased, though, drivers ran into more traffic than usual, fuel shortages and higher fuel prices.
An Increase in Summer Traffic
Earlier this summer, after schools let out and the pandemic seemed to slow down, people increased their time on the roads and returned to seemingly normal schedules. Whether it was because people started going back to the office or families were going on more vacations, the amount of people driving significantly increased compared to 2020. Per a survey by Bridgestone Americas, more than half of Americans planned to take vacations this summer, and almost 80 percent felt safer in a car than on a plane.
Construction projects also always pick up during the second and third quarters, causing road closures, detours and traffic bottlenecks. Even with the increase in building material costs, commuters have been running into more construction delays than in the previous year. Overall, drivers and trucking companies are likely to continue experiencing more traffic and delays than usual as summer continues.
Increased Fuel Pricing and Fuel Shortages
According to AAA, gas prices this summer have been at their highest since 2014. Summer prices normally rise due to the special blend of fuel required for decreasing ozone emissions, but this summer the higher prices seemed primarily due to the age-old problem of high demand and low supply.
Fuel shortages are rampant across the country due in part to a shortage of tanker drivers, who are needed to get the fuel to its destination. Around 25% of the fuel tanker fleets are not currently operating because there are not enough drivers. Due to the special training and demanding schedule required of tanker drivers, many drivers who were forced to leave the industry last year because of low demand do not plan on returning, according to CNN.
Due to the high fuel demand and an ongoing shortage of drivers, the prices of fuel have been higher than ever, which could significantly impact a trucking company’s business margins.
Preparing for Summer Travel
Trucking companies can lessen the financial impact on day-to-day operations by preparing for the spike in traffic and increased fuel prices and shortages in advance. Signing up for a fuel card and increasing your cash flow are great ways to start preparing.