The shortages have drawn comparisons to the global energy crises of the 1970s, when an OPEC oil embargo led to widespread shortages. But unlike then, the current shortage is not one of fuel but of trained drivers to deliver it.
Truck drivers tend to be older, and they are retiring. At the same time, driver trainees are facing delays in getting licensed because of the pandemic. Transport companies have reported raising wages for truck drivers by 25 percent or more this year to retain them.
Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union has made labor shortages worse, but it’s not the sole cause. The Road Haulage Association, a trade association of road transport operators, estimates that Britain is facing a shortfall of 100,000 drivers. About 20 percent of those are drivers who left Britain after it voted to leave the European Union.
“As soon as a tanker arrives at a filling station, people on social media are advising that a tanker has arrived, and then it’s like bees to a honey pot. Everyone flocks there,” Mr. Madderson said. “Within a few hours it is out again.”