Officials warning drivers against panic buying gasoline amid pipeline shutdown

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If you went to get gas on Tuesday, there’s a good chance many of you were met with an out-of-service bag over the pump.

Gas shortages are being reported across the East Coast because of fears over the Colonial Pipeline hack, but experts agree the pipeline cyberattack has created a “supply crunch” not a shortage.

It’s why they’re asking people not to panic nor hoard gasoline or diesel fuel.

“I know it’s easier said than done, but I really can’t stress enough that we have to do our part as consumers to be responsible at the pump,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA spokesperson.

As the Colonial Pipeline shutdown extends into night five, some gas pumps are running dry due to panic buying.

AAA is warning against hoarding and asking drivers to fuel up responsibly.

“Please don’t overconsume, don’t take your entire fleet of cars and fill them up, don’t top off when you don’t need to, don’t bring a ton of gas cans to the gas station to fill up,” Wright said.

Wright says there are several ways to conserve fuel. You can run multiple errands in one trip, avoid high traffic times of the day and minimize the use of air conditioning.

A psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro says consumer behavior during a crisis is often triggered by fear, which can manifest in herd behavior.

“You are seeing the images, right? You are seeing everybody else is doing it. You are probably hearing about it on your social media feed, so even though I might know in some way that I shouldn’t, there’s that fear of missing out and that fear of regret,” Dr. Kari Eddington said.

Several local and regional officials also believe the pandemic amplified our anxieties.

“Fear of not having enough toilet paper, fear of not having enough disinfectant, fear for not having masks, all these things, we’ve been living in fear, so I think it’s heightened even more. I don’t think the panic buying would be nearly as bad as much if we weren’t coming off a pandemic or still towards the end of a pandemic,” Wright said.

Drivers are ready to get back to normal and leave behind the rush to fill their tanks.

“I don’t like it at all cause it’s hindering me from doing stuff. I’d be on the move, without gas I can’t move,” said Victoria Giles, a driver.

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