We've said for weeks now that there is no shortage of goods and commodities; American and foreign factories have continued to crank out items despite labor shortages and whatnot. The problem created by a year's worth of COVID-19 shutdowns is that now there is no way to get goods to market quickly or at all in some cases.
We have air, rail and seafaring transportation available but by far the single biggest portion of the supply chain is trucking; they make up the vast majority of the delivery aspect of the supply chain. And while actual trucks are in great supply, people who know how to, and are licensed to, drive them, are not.
And, of course, there is a bureaucratic backlog as well, which is typical in this current governmental environment with a half-wit at the helm.
The trucking industry is desperate to get drivers into seats at a time when the supply chain needs them most, but a variety of factors is stalling the industry’s ability to gain traction.
Chief among those factors is the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Since January 2020 when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began recording substance abuse violations in the clearinghouse database, over 91,000 drivers have been taken off the road for testing positive or refusing to take a test. That number is expected to hit 100,000 before the end of the year.
While this is considered proof that the clearinghouse is doing its job — keeping unsafe drivers off the road — it is also increasing pressure on carriers trying to deal with unprecedented freight demand.
“We’ve lost, at least temporarily, 44,000 drivers so far in 2021 to drug or alcohol violations, which really stings when freight is sitting at the dock waiting to be picked up,” said P. Sean Garney, the Scopelitis Transportation Consulting co-director, in an interview with FreightWaves.
“With only 21% of drivers disqualified from driving a [commercial motor vehicle] taking the steps necessary to get back behind the wheel, the industry needs to continue to find creative ways to fill seats."
Got that? Only one-fifth of the drivers who were disqualified are bothering to try and get back into the industry again; that leaves an 80 percent deficit.
And why would they? Consider what it takes just to be able to drive a truck:
-- Health requirements (important for sure)
-- A multitude of expensive licenses (not important except to big government bureaucracies)
-- Constant scrutiny
-- Endless qualifications
-- Paperwork galore
-- Long hours
-- Relatively low pay
-- Lots of time away from loved ones
And what is the government (and governments) doing to make this situation better, to alleviate some or most of the requirements for this emergency situation? After all, some of these same functionaries told us they had to change voting laws to 'protect us' from COVID (resulting in a stolen election); they can't do anything to help alleviate the backlog of disqualified drivers so they can get on the road again?
Here's another issue created by left-wing Democrats that is preventing drivers from getting back on the road: Drugs and in particular, marijuana.
"Some contend that the inability of more would-be and current drivers to pass a drug test is exacerbated by an increasing number of states legalizing marijuana. The clearinghouse has consistently revealed marijuana to be the top substance identified in positive drug tests," Freightwaves reported.
And before you get upset about that, remember that companies don't want their drivers behind the wheel drunk, either.
"But there’s a lot of other things that are having a negative effect as well. Parts to fix trucks are in short supply, which means trucks have to be parked," said Karen Goodpaster, manager at St. Louis-based Apollo Express, adding that many drivers are moving from over-the-road to delivering locally because of shifting purchasing habits by shippers and consumers.
All in all, the point is the supply chain crisis, made much worse by a dearth of truck drivers and trucking parts, is not getting better. Stockpile now.