Several groups representing American truckers are pleading with the Biden administration to claw back its vaccine mandate and a new regulation that will make it more difficult to hire new drivers, which is scheduled to go into effect in early 2022.
According to a letter from the American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Association, and others, “We are concerned a mandate will cripple an already strained supply chain.”
The letter goes on to state, “We estimate companies covered by the mandate could lose 37% of drivers at a time when the nation is already short 80,000 truck drivers. …
We ask for flexibility for transportation and supply chain essential workers, particularly truck drivers who spend most of their time in their trucks and have minimal contact with colleagues and customers.”
The letter comes in response to the recent unveiling of President Biden’s federal vaccine mandate rule, released by OSHA. Per the rule, all private companies with more than 100 employees are required to have all employees vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022. Under the rule, employers can be fined $14,000 per violation and a whopping $136,532 for those deemed “willful” violations.
Unfortunately, as the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) explains, “TCA repeatedly called on the Administration to heed our warnings regarding this mandate’s impact on the already constrained supply chain, yet they chose to proceed with a disastrous mandate which will undoubtedly ensure the trucking industry loses a substantial number of drivers.”
TCA also issued this ominous warning, “These are the drivers the country is relying upon to deliver food, fuel, and presents for the upcoming holiday season, yet our national leadership has decided these needs must go unmet.”
Over the past 18 months, the U.S. supply chain has been upended by economic disruptions due to government-mandated shutdowns, persistent inflation, and policies that have made energy and fuel costs skyrocket.
At this point, when Americans are struggling mightily to make ends meet and find goods on the shelves, Biden’s vaccine mandate and its impact on truck drivers will only make the already dire situation worse.
Moreover, as many truck drivers have pointed out, their profession is hardly one in which they interact with throngs of people on a daily basis. Most truckers spend their days and nights on the road, alone. They pose little threat, if any, of being super spreaders.
Adding insult to injury, the Biden administration has also announced that it will rollout updated and more expansive regulations affecting those seeking new commercial drivers’ licenses (CDL) beginning in February 2022.
Per a white paper from PrePass, “After extremely lengthy consideration by the federal government, entry-level driver training (ELDT) for truck drivers, as well as other commercial motor vehicle operations, is set to go into effect in February 2022.”
The new rules require “31 mandatory theory (knowledge) topics in five general areas and behind-the-wheel (BTW) sessions on an off-road driving range and on the road.”
Furthermore, “The training must be given by a ‘training provider’ registered with FMCSA’s newly-established Training Provider Registry.”
In other words, at a time when the nation is already facing a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers, with thousands more likely to resign in defiance of the upcoming vaccine mandate deadline, the Biden administration is making it timelier and costlier for trucking companies to hire and train new drivers.
Even worse, Biden’s misguided green energy policies and antipathy toward U.S. energy production have caused the cost of diesel fuel to increase substantially. In 2020, diesel fuel averaged $2.50 per gallon. In 2021, it has increased to $3.40 per gallon.
With the economy reeling, inflation spiking, and the supply chain in tatters, Biden’s vaccine mandate and new rules for entry-level driving training for truck drivers will only compound these deeply rooted problems.
Chris Talgo is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.