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How common is substance abuse among commercial truckers?

As someone who regularly drives in Texas, you cannot help but encounter commercial trucks on the roadway, but if you are like many motorists, you may feel ill at ease when they come around. Because of their size and weight, trucks often win when they collide with smaller passenger vehicles, making sharing the road with semi-trucks dangerous even under the best possible conditions.

When truckers abuse substances while on the clock, however, whether they include alcohol, amphetamines or what have you, sharing the road with these vehicles becomes even more dangerous and potentially deadly. Just how common is substance abuse in the commercial trucking industry?

Trucker substance abuse, by the numbers

According to American Addiction Centers, in one study, about 30 percent of semi-truck drivers reported abusing amphetamines while on the job. Often, truck drivers turn to amphetamines and cocaine, which can boost alertness for a period, as a means of covering more miles and staying awake for longer periods. Doing so can prove tremendously dangerous, however. Truckers who abuse amphetamines are likely to experience hallucinations, agitation and other side effects that can impede their ability to drive safely.

Alcohol abuse, too, is highly problematic among today’s commercial truckers, with about 50 percent admitting to consuming alcohol while on the job. The problem appears especially pervasive on American soil when compared with other nations. More than 12 percent of American truckers test positive for alcohol, which is a higher percentage than that seen in any other nation.

Additional considerations

The long, isolated nature of the job likely plays a role in the high number of truckers abusing substances, and because most truckers earn pay by the mile rather than by the hour, this can encourage them to use substances that cause alertness. This can make the problem even more severe, however, because it gives trucking companies a false sense of how much their drivers can realistically do within a given period – which may lead to higher employer expectations.

When truck drivers abuse alcohol or drugs, they endanger you and everyone else in their path. Trucking companies have an ethical duty to hire safe drivers and make sure they are not abusing substances while representing the company.

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