CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – “It’s fear. People hate uncertainty. People hate not knowing.”
With Colonial Pipeline putting a pause on operations after a cyber attack last week, the company is warning about possible fuel shortages.
Now, fear has gripped drivers across the Southeast, causing increased panic buying and less gas to go around.
“If I run out of gas today, I don’t know when I would get it again. So it’s such a fluid situation,” says Steve Ray, owner of Midnite Oil.
Despite the uncertainty, Ray urges drivers not to panic buy, saying that he expects gas to return to normal by the end of the week.
“We put a stop to the can sales today. People were coming in and trying to buy five and ten cans worth of gasoline, they’re just hoarding it. And that’s the worst thing that can happen. I think it’s going to be Thursday, so two more days of this and then everything will get back to normal,” says Ray.
Adam Barkeloo, a behavioral psychologist with Erlanger, says that panic buying is a “chain reaction” of sorts, citing similar behavior with the toilet paper shortage during the early days of the pandemic.
“If I see you at the pump and there’s four cars behind you, I’ll tend to be the fifth. And then there will be a sixth and a tenth and they feed off of, everybody feeds off of other people’s behaviors,” says Barkeloo.
Some drivers think that it’s all hype, and that this will all come to pass.
“I think it’s just a scare like the toilet paper was or any of the other things that they were saying was a shortage. But we’ll see,” says Jamie Parton, a local motorist.