Trucking companies have faced a driver shortage for years. While there are many reasons, 2020 brought another: drug testing. Or more specifically, how companies share those results among themselves.
“At one point we had 17 truckers. Now we’re down to nine,” said Mary Bohl with a Missouri trucking firm. “We are really struggling to get people in here.”
Nationally speaking, part of the issue is demographics. “Truck drivers in general are older than the general working population, so there are more of them retiring,” said Sean Garney with Scopelitis Transportation Consulting.
Bob Costello with the American Trucking Associations, said the pandemic made things worse because “you can’t train as many new drivers to the industry. When you talk to truck driver training schools, they have trained 20 to 50 percent fewer drivers in 2020 than they did in 2019.”
On top of these factors: new drug testing data-sharing. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began a drug and alcohol clearinghouse a year ago. It allows companies to access drug test results for drivers nationwide. If a driver fails a test in one state, he or she cannot get a driving job in another state.
Tens of thousands of drivers have been disqualified. “It’s hard to deny the fact that 47,000 drivers are ineligible to operate a commercial vehicle since the beginning of the clearinghouse,” Garney said. “But making sure drivers who should be ineligible aren’t driving is a good thing.”
Half of the violations are for marijuana.