Sharing the road with large commercial trucks makes many people uneasy, and when cars and trucks crash into one another, the passengers in the cars are frequently the ones who suffer most. Driving alongside semitrucks involves inevitable risk, even under the best of circumstances, but when truckers choose to abuse substances before getting behind the wheel, they endanger everyone in their path.
Just how common is substance abuse among commercial truckers?
Statistics surrounding substance abuse by long-haul truckers
Per USA Mobile Drug Testing, roughly half of all semitruck drivers involved in a recent survey reported consuming alcohol behind the wheel. This statistic is particularly sobering considering the fact that trucks have to travel between 20 and 40 percent farther than smaller passenger vehicles after drivers apply the brakes, and that drinking and driving can slow a trucker’s reaction time.
Additionally, another 30 percent of truck drivers involved in the survey admitted to using amphetamines behind the wheel, with some likely doing so in an effort to log more miles and cover longer shifts. Others link their abuse of substances to the difficult nature of the trucking profession, or to the sorrow and solitude they feel having to spend long lengths of time away from their families and loved ones.
Recent changes in drug-testing procedures
While some truckers use alcohol and amphetamines while on the job, others abuse opioids, and the problem has become increasingly apparent over time. The problem has become so widespread, in fact, that the U.S. Department of Transportation made changes to its drug-testing procedures for the transport industry so that tests would now reveal trucker opioid use.
While beefing up drug testing procedures for commercial truckers is a good start, widespread change is necessary to ensure the safety of everyone on the roadway. Commercial trucks are large, heavy vehicles, and when substance abusers sit behind the wheel, they become potentially deadly weapons.