How Have Drug Regulations Affected the Trucking Industry?
72.5% of freight is moved by trucks in the United States. With a limited pool of drivers available to move this freight, this means existing drivers can get stretched pretty thin.
Add to this the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) drug testing regulations that went into effect in January 2020, and the industry lost another 70,000 drivers who were disqualified due to substance use. While the FMCSA provides a return to duty program for these disqualified drivers, only 17,000 have completed the program.
Of those drivers who were disqualified, 56% were positive for marijuana use, 18% for amphetamines, and 15% for cocaine. Since tests can’t distinguish when drug use occurred, there’s no way to determine if these drivers were driving under the influence or not.
How Do the Regulations Affect Truck Drivers?
This shortage can be good news for current or incoming drivers, as trucking companies are competing to hire the best drivers. As drug regulations reduce the driver pool though, the industry will continue to see shipping delays and increased pricing for products which will increase costs for carriers.
A possible side effect of these price increases is shady deals from trucking companies trying to lure drivers, so it’s important for drivers to check out companies to make sure they can deliver what they promise.
The increase in substance testing also means drivers have to be extra careful about substances they put in their bodies or about visiting areas where they could come into contact with substances that would disqualify them.
New drivers coming into the industry must be prepared to pass a drug test before being employed, as well as pass random drug tests throughout the year. Moving forward, many companies will require drug training to ensure drivers understand the importance of avoiding substances.
What Happens if You are Disqualified for Substance Use?
As part of the drug regulations, the FMCSA has created a return to duty program drivers can complete. This program requires drivers to attend substance abuse counseling. During this counseling they must pass six drug tests to be able to return to the road.
These regulations include alcohol use, and drivers are tested at a lower BAC. This means drivers must be careful about drinking before receiving a substance use test, or they could be disqualified. It is best to avoid alcohol for a 12-hour period before being tested.
Making the Most of the Driver Shortage
Between these new drug regulations and other issues that have led to driver shortages, now is a good time to get into the trucking industry as carriers will compete for your time. Just make sure you do your research to find reputable companies. You want to work for companies willing to keep your needs, especially your safety in mind.
If you’re looking for a good place to start, check out the Better Truck Driving Jobs postings of companies looking to hire.