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Trucks in a parking lot

Trucks in a parking lot. Uber Freight

  • A wholesale CEO said he’s had to turn down a painful number of truckers because they can’t pass drug tests.

  • Drug and alcohol rules are keeping about 72,000 drivers off the road in the US, per government data.

  • The rules, which started in 2020, is making it harder to enrol drivers, experts told the NY Post.

The CEO of a food wholesaler said he was turning down some candidates for trucker jobs amid a labour shortage because they couldn’t pass drug tests.

Chris Pappas, CEO of Chef’s Warehouse, which provides ingredients to restaurants, told the New York Post that he was short about 1,000 drivers. The number of candidates being turned away due to drug tests was “a big enough number that it hurts,” he said, without giving more detail.

The rules on vetting truckers were changed in 2020. Under the new driver Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse system for recording drug and alcohol violations, 72,000 drivers were prohibited from work as of September, per government data. All employers and truckers must update their records annually and all employers must consult the database before they approve a new driver.

In October, the American Trucking Association estimated that the industry was short around 80,000 drivers. There were already concerns about staffing before the coronavirus pandemic pushed people out of the workforce.

Employees are generally pleased with the new, stricter rules, but industry groups say it has made it harder to enroll new drivers, per the New York Post.

“It’s a staggering number of drivers we have lost” because of the rules, Jeremy Reymer, chief executive of industry recruiter DriverReach, told the Post.

Steve Keppler, co-director of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, said drivers that tested positive were previously able to hop between jobs. “They wouldn’t report their previous employer, so a carrier wouldn’t pick up on the positive test. The Clearinghouse has stopped that from happening,” he said.

The driver shortage has caused delays in food and goods supply at some companies and contributed to backlogs at ports, as ships are unable to offload cargo.

Like workers in other sectors, drivers say that improving pay and conditions will encourage more people into the industry.

Pappas spoke to the New York Post alongside other trucking executives and industry leaders about the impact of the system on recruitment in the sector.

Insider has contacted Chef’s Warehouse for further comment.

According to Clearinghouse’s monthly report for September 2021, 72,444 drivers had “prohibited” status. About 54,000 of these were yet to start the reassessment process required before they can return to duty. Of these people, 11,922 were eligible to be reassessed, per the report.

Overwhelmingly, employers see the rules as a positive for safer roads, but some say there are some inconsistencies in the rules, including the fact that different states have different laws surrounding the use of cannabis, per the Post.

Expanded Coverage Module: what-is-the-labor-shortage-and-how-long-will-it-last

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