Last year, the introduction of electronic driver logs shook up the industry, tightening capacity and raising rates. While it undoubtably make a positive impact on safety as an industry whole, it also sent shockwaves reverberating through the industry and the result was higher rates and tighter capacity. A lesser discussed, but possibly just impactful, legislative change is coming in January of 2020 as the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will open its doors.
The main goal of this program is to prevent drivers from failing a drug test for one company and then just taking a job with another company without penalty. Under the new policy, any drivers who have previously failed a drug test will not be able to haul over the road until they complete a return-to-duty program. It is estimated that this would cost around 300,000 drivers their jobs, at least temporarily. Because this change has been communicated early, it is very possible that some drivers will try to get ahead of the change by completing their “return to duty” programs before the policy takes effect.
Some drivers will start to leave the industry if they know this will affect their job security, but the big hit will come next January when drivers who know they have failures on their records are forced to act. Even if it just means a temporary shock to capacity, it will have an impact on pricing. Because the root cause will be in reduced capacity, the impact can be expected to be similar to the impact ELD shipping had in 2018. Even though companies had months to prepare and the enforcement date was pushed back, we still saw capacity tighten and rates rise.
Building relationships now and educating each other will allow those in the industry to prepare and go through this new regulation with minimal changes. The spot market will rise as tender accepted rates will decline. But having consistency can keep the same drivers on your freight throughout the shortage.
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