How common is substance abuse among truckers?

It is virtually impossible to travel Kentucky’s roadways and not encounter commercial trucks, but that does not make sharing the road with these heavy, oversize vehicles any less anxiety-inducing for motorists. While semi-trucks present certain dangers simply because they are so large, which can make them difficult to see or navigate around, they can prove substantially more dangerous when their drivers abuse substances while driving them.

According to the American Addiction Centers, today’s commercial truck drivers are abusing drugs and alcohol at alarming rates, which can impact driver performance in numerous ways. While abusing alcohol can negatively affect vision, reaction time and judgment, among other areas relating to driver performance, abusing drugs can also hinder a truck driver’s ability to travel the state and nation’s roadways safely.

For example, in a series of 13 studies conducted during a recent 13-year period, more than 80 percent of truck drivers surveyed said that they had abused amphetamines at work. Amphetamines, including methamphetamine, can increase alertness initially, which appeals to some truck drivers who think using them will allow them to log more hours and cover more miles. Amphetamines can lead drivers to feel “invincible” and take unnecessary risks, however, and they can also make them even more tired later on, when the effects start to wear off.

While trucker drug use is a serious concern for the motoring public, so, too, is alcohol abuse among truckers. Despite the obvious dangers associated with drinking and driving a commercial truck, however, almost 91 percent of truck drivers surveyed reported consuming alcohol during their shifts.

This information about substance abuse among truckers is educational in nature and does not constitute legal advice.