Study seeks to learn why some truck drivers use alcohol, drugs

Over the past few years, government agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have increased efforts to stop deadly truck accidents. While these efforts have focused mainly on distracted driving and drowsy driving – two of the most common causes of accidents involving large commercial trucks – there is no denying that the use of drugs and alcohol continues to be a factor in many crashes. Recently, researchers published the findings of a worldwide study aimed at learning more about why some truck drivers drink or use drugs while behind the wheel.

Researchers in the Netherlands and Brazil examined the findings of 36 studies conducted in countries around the world. Most of the studies were conducted in the U.S., Australia and Brazil. The majority of the studies gauged drug or alcohol use not by taking samples, but rather through the use of survey information collected voluntarily from drivers.

Drug Use is High Among Commercial Truck Drivers

Their study, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine on October 17, 2013 found that commercial truck drivers routinely use alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines and marijuana. The percentage of truck drivers who use these substances varied widely according to each study. In some cases, surveys indicated that up to 91 percent of truck drivers drank alcohol and up to 85 percent used amphetamines while on the job. It is important to note, however, that because this recent study relied on a variety of other studies for its information, all of which used different analytic techniques, it is difficult to get an idea for what the actual percentages may be. Nevertheless, it raises some interesting questions and underscores the need for further research.

Interestingly, studies that relied on the collection of biological samples from truck drivers typically showed lower incidence of alcohol and drug use while on the job. These studies did not, however, speak to whether the participating truck drivers had ever used illicit substances while driving.

Drivers are Under Stress

The researchers were able to identify several factors that seemed to contribute to the likelihood of alcohol and drug use. Overall, younger drivers, those who are required to drive longer routes, those who must drive at night, and those who receive wages below union recommended levels are all more likely to use illicit substances while working.

No matter the cause, an accident with a large commercial truck can cause devastating, life changing injuries. To learn more about your legal options in the event of an accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.