By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Gas prices continued to increase in or around Southern California for the ninth day in a row. And that appeared to be a similar trend nationwide where other states were seeing an increase as well.

The average price of a gallon of regular gas in the Beverly Grove area on Saturday was $4.99 and $5.99 for premium.

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“Right now, I spent almost $100 on gas,” said Edwin Palma, who commutes almost 100 miles per day. Though the price bump is not uncommon as summer approaches, this year, there is a new factor: a shortage in tanker truck drivers.

“With the fuel prices, there is a definitely an increase in that because of a cost to deliver to the station,” said Joe Keith of Pacific Gas Lines, which is based in Riverside.

He says a 50 to 80 percent drop in delivery requests due in large part to the COVID stay-at-home orders last year led to a drop in qualified drivers.

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“What we really need is more people coming in,” said Keith, who explained that an increase in drivers could bring the prices down and prevent what industry leaders fear could be a shortage of fuel at gas stations across the country.

Keith says he is hardly able to keep up with demand presently.

“I’d love to say yes to all these people but we only have so many drivers that are equipped and qualified,” he said. “Those poor guys are working extra days and you are putting more and more a demand on those poor guys.”

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The tanker industry is heavily recruiting. Becoming a qualified driver they say could take as little as six months with starting wages around $80,000 a year.