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Here's advice on how to handle the Colonial Pipeline crisis if you drive a lot

AAA Mid-Atlantic recommends drivers only get gas if they actually need fuel. The agency says drivers should avoid 'panic buying'.

WASHINGTON — Federal officials say the gas crisis on the East Coast will likely last just a few days. However, experts add there are a few things Americans can do to make sure they do not encounter problems on the road in the interim.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced she had talked with the chief executive officer of the Colonial Pipeline and that the company had informed her it would restart its pipeline operations at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Colonial Pipeline, the primary fuel source for many DC, Maryland, and Virginia gas stations, was the victim of a ransomware cyberattack last week. The incident resulted in a temporary shutdown of the pipeline service.

Gas Buddy, a tech company that shows users where to find gas, says currently 15 percent of fuel stations in Maryland and DC are reporting gas shortages. While fifty-two percent of stations in Virginia are also experiencing similar problems due to the Colonial Pipeline gas shortage.

So, what can you do to have a headache-free week on the roads?

“The most important thing to do is to avoid topping off your tank because that creates a self-fulfilling prophecy," says John Townsend, the public relations manager for AAA mid-Atlantic.

He says only go to the gas station if you have about a quarter tank of gasoline.

“If you have more than a half tank of gasoline, you can probably get through this.”

Townsend also recommends drivers “shop with their steering wheel.”

“If one station is out of gasoline, don't panic,” he said. “Don't give up the ghost. Just simply go and shop with your steering wheel and drive to the next nearest gas station. You can always find an adequate supply.

The gas efficiency of a vehicle can also be improved by removing excess weight in the vehicle and driving at slower speeds, according to Townsend.

There are various factors driving the current panic at the pump. However, Townsend points out the pandemic is partially to blame. He says there is currently a pent-up demand to travel.

“People are already making road trips on weekends,” Townsend said. “So, they're traveling. They're going into weekend vacation spots, going to the beaches. We've gotten a lot of calls from motorists who are planning trips that they haven't made in a year.”

If you need gas and cannot find it in your area, Townsend says you may want to download AAA’s fuel price finder app.

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