A dire truck driver shortage that’s wreaking havoc on the US economy is getting worse — and it’s being fueled partly by tough federal drug-testing restrictions that were imposed nationwide last year, industry officials told The Post.
More than 72,000 truck drivers have been taken off US roads since January 2020 because they have failed drug tests that are now required by the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, a 22-month-old registry established to increase safety on US highways, according to government data.
That’s a big number, considering that the American Trucking Association — which also blames the pandemic and a lack of younger drivers, among other factors — recently pegged the industry’s overall driver shortfall at 80,000, up from 60,800 in 2018 and 50,700 in 2017.
“It’s a staggering number of drivers we have lost” because of the new drug-testing rules, Jeremy Reymer, chief executive of industry recruiter DriverReach, told The Post.
Employers see the clearinghouse, which is enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as positive and necessary but also a source of concern. It’s a list that employers are required to consult before hiring a driver to avoid putting dangerous drivers on the highway.
Another employer who asked not to be identified estimates that he rejects up to 15 percent of his truck driver job applicants because of drug violations. What’s more, the number of positive drug tests rose 13 percent in August compared with a year ago, according to an analysis of the government data by Transport Topics.