Gas prices on the rise in Central Illinois, lack of tanker truck drivers could pose new challenges

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Gas prices are on the rise in Central Illinois. Gas stations owner the increased numbers are expected as more normalcy returns but a truck driver shortage may create new issues.

Wednesday, Gas Buddy data showed average prices in Peoria are quickly approaching $3.10 a gallon.

As COVID-19 restrictions are eased and drivers once again travel, the owner of Beachler’s in Peoria says gas prices are transitioning to pre-pandemic figures.

“We went through a year or so of really depressed volumes and now that everybody’s up and moving and so forth, we have increased demand and of course prices tend to follow up with that,” said Terry Beachler, owner of Beachler’s.

He says the prices currently seen are likely to stay for the foreseeable future.

“It might increase a little but I don’t foresee anything drastic,” Beachler said.

New challenges to keep prices down may be ahead. Nationally, there is a shortage of tanker truck drivers which could lead to more money being spent at the pump.

“There is about a 20-25 percent shortage in truck drivers, mainly in that tanker division,” said Ken Baker, Truck Driving Instructor at Illinois Central College.

Baker says factors like the pandemic may be creating the squeeze on drivers, but he also believes some individuals may not know where to go for training.

At ICC grant funding is being used to encourage people to join the industry.

“When you have a grant that is willing to help you pay for that school and then pay a stipend for that school, that’s a big incentive right there,” Baker said.

Local drivers say while they hope to see prices trend downward, they know gas is a near necessity.

“I’d like to see them be lower because a penny saved is a penny earned but at the same time I drive a lot, it’s a part of my job and I have to pay it,” said Zach Shaw, local driver.

Beachler says gas prices increasing isn’t necessarily good for business.

He explains that wholesale prices will also rise, which creates tighter profit margins.

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