WTT?!? weekday wrap: Australian fires, chain-reaction accidents, the latest economic data, and more [with video]

We kick off the week with headlines involving major trucking crashes in Pennsylvania and Indiana, the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse websites opening day struggles. Don’t worry, though, if you’re trying to register, the site is now up and operational and you can find it by clicking here.

We spend Five Good Minutes with Chief Insight Officer, Dean Croke, discussing the distressing scale of the wildfires in Australia. Dean grew up in Australia and discusses its population, land mass, climate policies, climate change, and things he personally witnessed growing up on a farm in the 1970s.

What is up with the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse? We discuss in Now Trending in Supply Chain. In addition to preparing for a jump in costs for testing their drivers, carriers should also ensure their drug-testing policies and procedures are updated to reflect the doubling of random drug testing rates, according to compliance consultant J.J. Keller. The random drug-test increase from 25% to 50% of the average number of a carrier’s drivers was made public by the FMCSA on Dec. 26. The agency estimates doubling the rate will cost the trucking industry an additional $50 million to $70 million for calendar year 2020.

We deduce that the increase in the drug-testing is due in part to the U.S. Department of Transportation including testing now of four semisynthetic opioids: oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone. Another reason could very well be the increase in states legalizing the medical or recreational use of marijuana. A survey released in September by Quest Diagnostics, which analyzes drug-testing results, found that tests showing up positive for marijuana in the transportation and warehousing industries increased 53.3% between 2015 and 2018, among the highest of the different industry sectors.

For our On the Radar segment, economist Anthony Smith discusses first quarter manufacturing and housing start numbers. He sees a mixed picture, but he did predict the fifth consecutive contraction of the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing data, the lowest it’s been at since 2009. What’s to blame for low transportation industrial manufacturing? Global trade remains the top cross-industry issue, but there are signs that several industry sectors will improve once the phase-one trade agreement between the U.S. and China is finalized next week.

Research Analyst, Andrew Cox, plays Dooner in another competitive round of Market Expert Trivia. Prevost plays professor and quizzes them on all things freight brokerage.

For Big Deal, Little Deal with Emily Szink, we assess California’s “stay” on the AB5 ruling, bipedal delivery robots, the case of the captured “porch pirate,” a Virtual Visor that precisely blocks the sun, and the fact that Jon Favreau says the “baby Yoda” isn’t really a baby, among other things.

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