Florida truckers helping ease gas outage as Sunshine State sees demand spike

'We really do need people to take a step back,' Trucking Association President Ken Armstrong says
Posted at 7:00 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 19:00:25-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida truckers are working to boost supply as gas demand continues to spike in the Sunshine State.

The Florida Trucking Association said Tuesday evening's emergency declaration was helping.

Approved and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, it allows tanker trucks to waive weight requirements and deliver more gas. Federal officials have also loosened restrictions permitting drivers to work longer hours.

Association President Ken Armstrong was hopeful changes would ensure normality returns by this weekend. But, he said a lot of it depends on Floridians who need to stop panic-buying fuel.

"We really do need people to take a step back," said Armstrong. "If they have a half-tank of gas, hold on. A lot of this shortage is caused by people overreacting."

Ken Armstrong, president of Florida Trucking Association
Ken Armstrong says Florida's emergency declaration waives weight restrictions, allowing tanker trucks to carry more gas.

State officials are echoing that call.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said 95 percent of the state’s gas comes from seaports, not the shutdown Colonial Pipeline.

Florida's issues, she said, are largely self-inflicted and can be avoided if residents return to normal buying habits.

"I'm begging our consumers out there -- do not panic-buy gas," Fried said. "Do not hoard gas. This is business as usual in the state of Florida. Please, make sure you’re being respectful of everyone else in the state who needs gas."

Nikki Fried, Florida Agriculture Commissioner
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says the state's gas shortages are largely self-inflicted.

AAA continues to call Florida's fuel supplies strong. In a statement, AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said the state remained well supplied.

"This is not a refinery issue. Gasoline is still being made and fuel continues sailing through Florida ports, regardless of whether Colonial Pipeline is operational," Jenkins said. "Florida is said to have access to plenty of gasoline. It's now just a matter of getting the fuel where it's needed, primarily those gas stations that are being tapped out due to panic buying."

The group reported Florida gas prices hadn't made significant gains since the first reports of the Colonial Pipeline outage Friday.

AAA said the average is $2.89 per gallon. That's only two cents more than the previous week and three cents less than 2021's highest price of $2.91 per gallon in late March.