Seventy-hour workweeks, eight days in a row. An uncertain pay structure. Extended periods of isolation that can lead to severe loneliness. These are just a few of the realities for truck drivers in the United States. Unfortunately, they also contribute to widespread substance abuse in the industry as drivers struggle to cope with their working conditions.
Needless to say, anyone driving under the influence poses a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road. With commercial trucks, that risk increases. The average semi-truck is about 72 feet long and weighs roughly 80,000 pounds. It takes longer to stop a truck, not to mention a special set of skills to be able to maneuver these vehicles around turns, between lanes, and onto highways. All of which is to say that the risk of damage, injury, and death from a truck accident is far greater than with the average passenger vehicle.
A now-famous study from a few years ago found that among truckers, “overall use of mind-altering substances was high and linked to poor working conditions.” Amphetamines and cocaine were among the most widely used substances, given their ability to keep drivers awake for abnormally long periods of time. Years on, this problem still persists. After publishing a recent study, The Trucking Alliance said that there is “compelling evidence that thousands of habitual drug users are manipulating federal drug test protocols and obtaining jobs as commercial truck drivers.”
Drug abuse is also more prevalent among truck drivers than the general population. Data from the Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene found the “overall annual prevalence” of amphetamine use among truck drivers was 21.3 percent, compared to a 0.7 percent consumption rate by the general population.
Alcohol is a problem, too. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health notes that when a trucker binge-drinks once per month, that person “increases the chance of being involved in crash accidents by tenfold.” Recalling the above information about the destructive nature of truck accidents, that’s an extremely unnerving statistic.
These substances are not only a danger to the truckers — they post a threat to everyone on the road because of the way they impair a trucker’s ability to adhere to safety standards behind the wheel. Besides keeping drivers awake for unnaturally long periods of time, these substances can also lead them to take more risks behind the wheel. Speeding, making sudden lane merges, and driving through dangerous weather are just a few examples.
Drivers of other vehicles should always maintain a safe distance between their cars and large commercial trucks when on the road. If you are involved in a truck accident and suspect the other driver was under the influence, you may be able to seek compensation for damages. Please reach out to us today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 777-7575.