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How common is substance abuse among truckers?

As someone who lives and works in West Virginia, you have probably grown accustomed to sharing the state’s roadways with coal trucks, logging trucks and other commercial vehicles, but that does not make doing so any less anxiety-inducing. When cars and commercial vehicles collide, cars are often on the losing end of the equation, and such collisions become exponentially more likely when the professionals driving those commercial vehicles are drunk or high.

Sadly, the American Addiction Centers report that truck driver substance abuse is alarmingly common across the trucking industry, and that this has held true for decades, despite the fact that the dangers associated with drunk and drugged driving are well-documented. Just how prevalent is the use of alcohol and drugs in commercial trucking?

Commercial trucker substance abuse statistics

The results of 36 studies that took place between 2000 and 2013 showed that alcohol abuse was the most pervasive form of substance abuse affecting today’s truckers; drug abuse was not far behind. Of those who participated in these 36 studies, up to 91 percent said they had consumed alcohol at some point during their careers before getting behind the wheel.

Amphetamine abuse among truckers is also a widespread problem, per survey results, with about 82 percent of commercial truckers acknowledging using these types of drugs while on the job. While alcohol and amphetamine abuse can affect trucker performance differently, both forms of substance abuse can have a substantial and negative impact on driving ability. Alcohol abuse, for example, can affect reaction time, judgment, alertness and more, while amphetamine abuse can result in fatigued driving once the effects wear off. Amphetamines can also make users experience an enhanced sense of invincibility, which can make them more likely to engage in risky and dangerous driving behaviors.

Truck drivers sit behind the wheels of massively heavy machinery, and they have an ethical duty to abstain from abusing substances while in the driver’s seat. Failing to do so jeopardizes the safety of everyone traveling roadways.

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