The Drug War Is Keeping Truckers Off the Road
Many people are justifiably concerned about the ongoing disruption of the global supply chain. More than 70 percent of Americans have either been unable to get a certain product, or have experienced a delay.
Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply has struggled to keep up with demand. Shortages of materials and parts have combined with protectionist trade policies, leading to empty shelves and inflated prices.
But another factor contributing to kinks in the supply chain is a lack of truck drivers. In an October report, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimated that the trucking industry was short 80,000 drivers, and the shortage could be twice that by the end of the decade.
Given that deficit, it would make sense to take all steps necessary to open up the pool of qualified candidates. Unfortunately, arcane drug war policies are needlessly holding up the process.
Beginning in 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—part of the Department of Transportation (DOT)—implemented new rules for trucking companies and state regulatory agencies. Beginning in January 2020, the FMCSA increased the rate of random drug and alcohol testing for drivers; all drivers who fail a test are required to be entered into the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a searchable online database, where their records are retained for at least five years. Additionally, employers are required to check all new hires against the database, as well as annually re-checking every one of their employees. A failed drug test can lead to either a mandatory substance abuse evaluation or termination.
While it makes intuitive sense to screen long-haul truck drivers for drunkenness and other substance abuse problems, conflating alcohol with drugs is deceptive. For example, the FMCSA classifies a violation as
Article from Reason.com