A recent study found that many truck drivers may be using drugs or alcohol while they are on the job.
Using drugs or alcohol on the job can result in a slower response time when a hazard is approaching, particularly if the substance being used is alcohol or marijuana. In other cases such as in the use of stimulants by the drivers, the drugs could cause them to behave erratically and lose control of their vehicles.
As many readers are already aware, truck accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, particularly when a truck collides with a smaller vehicle. Since any passenger vehicle on the road is likely to be smaller and weigh less than a semi-truck and trailer, those who are driving near trucks are at risk if the truck driver loses control of their rig. Substance abuse can increase this risk.
Trucking companies are responsible for monitoring their drivers to insure that they are adhering to safety standards, including avoiding fatigue, maintain a safe rig, and abstaining from drugs and alcohol while on the job. Yet survey results found that as many as 90 percent of truck drivers may be using alcohol on the job in some places and as many as 82 percent may be using amphetamine. These results were compiled using international data from both drug testing and questionnaires filled out by drivers. The results vary widely depending on different factors. For example, younger drivers and drivers who were paid less were more likely to use illegal substances. Drivers who drove longer trips and those who drove more at night also displayed an increased likelihood of using substances on the job.
Source: Health Day, “Study Probes Why Truckers Use Booze, Illicit Drugs,” Oct. 22, 2013.