Given the enormous geographical size of California, a drive from Orange County to the Oregon state line would span roughly 700 miles on Interstate 5. While the average driver might break up a trip into two days, professional truck drivers travel great distances like this on a daily basis. Not only that, but the semi trucks that they drive dwarf the average vehicle in both size and weight.
Driving a car safely for any distance requires concentration. But, concentration becomes even more critical for a person to safely drive a large commercial truck for hundreds of miles at a time. Disturbingly, many truck drivers in the United States may rely on drug use to try to keep them awake and alert while they are on the road for long stretches of time.
A study that involved the U.S. and some other countries that commonly use long-haul trucking revealed that amphetamines, cannabis and cocaine are among the most frequently used substances by truck drivers. Not surprisingly, the data showed that younger drivers and those who are traveling longer distances at night are the most likely to use these drugs while driving.
Just how widespread drug use is among truck drivers in the U.S. is not clear. But what is clear is that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is concerned about the problem. The FMCSA is seeking to perform a more comprehensive analysis on how driver behavior, including the use of drugs, is contributing to reckless driving and truck accidents.
Some drivers who consume drugs or alcohol while on the job may be doing so in an effort to combat truck driver fatigue. However, this kind of behavior is not only illegal, but it may also be a contributing factor to the truck accidents that cause tens of thousands of injuries and deaths each year.
Source: Pacific Standard, “Late Nights, Long Drives, and Too Much Speed,” Lauren Kirchner, Accessed on March 23, 2015