Are random drug screenings a factor in the nationwide trucker shortage?
While there are plenty of factors explaining the nationwide shortage of truckers, an executive at Wells Fargo believes there’s one factor that’s being completely overlooked: Marijuana drug testing. In order to drive tractor-trailers, one must possess a CDL license and are expected to pass random drug screenings by law. With marijuana being legalized in most states for at least medical use, this requirement is preventing many potential drivers from entering the field.
As the labor shortage continues to get worse, the role of marijuana testing has been at the center of many heated debates. Labor shortages put more power in the hands of employees. Shortages in truck drivers cause the cost of goods to skyrocket, as the service becomes more expensive. While the plausible course of action may be to eliminate marijuana drug testing, the trucking industry’s drug policies have become more stringent.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers are randomly tested quarterly and in the event of an accident or a traffic violation. Drivers who test positive for marijuana use immediately lose their ability to operate commercial motor vehicles.
To add insult to injury, the federal government implemented a law in 2020 that put drivers who failed drug tests into a national database so that other companies would know not to hire them. Prior to the 2020 law, positive drug tests could go unreported if the previous employer didn’t choose to disclose that information.
As of December, nearly 60,000 truck drivers were temporarily taken off of the road for testing positive for marijuana use. The American Trucking Association has reported a shortage of over 80,000 truckers. These 60,000 drivers could relieve the shortage if marijuana testing for truckers was removed. However, until laws are changed at the federal level, marijuana drug tests will continue to be a major factor in the nationwide trucker shortage, according to Wells Fargo executive Chris Harvey.