Sharing the road with commercial trucks involves inevitable risks, and this holds true even when the people operating those semitrailers are driving carefully and conscientiously. Unfortunately, many truckers find themselves engaging in all types of dangerous driving behaviors behind the wheel, with an alarming percentage of them admitting to abusing alcohol and drugs despite the obvious dangers associated with doing so.

How often are commercial truckers abusing alcohol and drugs, and how can their abuse of drugs or alcohol affect their driving ability?

Trucker substance abuse facts and figures

According to the American Addiction Centers, a series of 36 surveys involving commercial truckers conducted between 2000 and 2013 revealed some troubling findings about how frequently truck drivers are abusing substances while at work. While more than 8 percent of the truckers involved in the surveys acknowledged having abused cocaine at some point while on the job, about 82 percent said they had used amphetamines, while up to 91 percent reported drinking alcohol.

Any abuse of substances by truck drivers can dramatically enhance the risk of a truck crash. Certain substances, such as amphetamines, can increase feelings of invincibility in tractor-trailer drivers, which can make them more likely to take unreasonable risks. Amphetamine and cocaine abuse, meanwhile, can lead to long periods of alertness followed by intense “crashes” later on, which can throw off truck driver schedules and make them more inclined to drive fatigued. The effects of alcohol consumption on driving ability are even more well-documented, with alcohol having the potential to impact everything from a driver’s reaction time to his or her level of alertness.

Contributing factors

Why is substance abuse in the trucking industry such a prolific problem? Some believe the isolated nature of the job is partly to blame. Others say the tight timelines and related pressures associated with the profession are likely contributing factors.

Regardless of a truck driver’s reasons for abusing substances, he or she unnecessarily and recklessly endangers everyone on the roadway when doing so. It is important for those injured in a truck accident to thoroughly investigate the possible causes.