Driving a semi-truck involves a high level of responsibility because when trucks and passenger vehicles collide, the people in the smaller vehicles are the ones most likely to suffer serious injuries or fatalities. Unfortunately, research about how often truck drivers abuse drugs and alcohol is shining a spotlight on an industrywide substance abuse trend, and it is one that endangers you and everyone else who shares the road with commercial truckers.
How much are today’s truck drivers turning to drugs or alcohol at work?
Drug abuse widespread
According to the American Addiction Centers, drug use, and particularly the use of mind-altering stimulants, is abnormally high among truck drivers. Truckers often work long shifts with little, if any company, and this may make them more inclined to use drugs while at the wheel.
Several studies offer insight into how often truck drivers are abusing drugs on the job. In one study, about 30% of those surveyed said they used amphetamines at work. Another series of 36 separate studies conducted between 2000 and 2013 showed the rate of amphetamine abuse in the industry to be much higher, coming in at 82.5%.
While some truckers turn to stimulants to help them stay awake and cover more miles at a time, amphetamine abuse often leads to dangerous side effects. It may make a trucker prone to hallucinations, for example, or it may lead to agitation or exhaustion, which may impact driving performance.
Alcohol abuse also common
Statistics show that alcohol abuse is even more common than drug abuse among truckers. More than 90% of the truckers in those 36 studies admitted they had consumed alcohol on the job. The dangers of drinking and driving are well-documented. They become even more hazardous, however, when the person drinking and driving is sitting behind the wheel of a truck that may weigh up to 80,000 pounds after factoring in truck weight and freight weight.