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How common is substance abuse among truckers?

Many drivers across Maryland and the United States prefer to avoid traveling near commercial trucks whenever possible because they can be hard to see and navigate around, among other reasons. While sharing the road with semitrucks is dangerous even when truck drivers are consistent about properly following the rules of the road, it can prove considerably more so when the employees driving these vehicles are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Unfortunately, the American Addiction Centers report that substance abuse among semitruck drivers is far more common than you may like to believe. When truckers turn to drugs or alcohol while at the wheel, it has the potential to affect everything from their vision and alertness to a trucker’s ability to stop or gauge risks, which in turn means everyone else on the roadway faces increased dangers. So, just how much are today’s truck drivers turning to drugs or alcohol, and why is substance abuse such a prevalent problem in the industry?

Reasons for trucker substance abuse

Today’s truck drivers often turn to drugs or alcohol for a variety of reasons. In some instances, truckers use drugs known to increase alertness, such as methamphetamines, because they want to, say, complete a particular route faster than they would with rest breaks. In fact, about 82.5 percent of truck drivers involved in 36 different studies conducted over a 13-year period noted that they had used amphetamines on the job. Doing so is undeniably dangerous.

For starters, amphetamines can give semitruck drivers a feeling of “invincibility,” which may make them more likely to misjudge environmental conditions or otherwise take unnecessary risks. They can also make truck drivers come down when the substance's effects start to wear off, which can make truckers more at risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Alcohol abuse, too, is a substantial problem, with up to 91 percent of commercial truck drivers surveyed reporting they had abused alcohol at work.

Truck drivers have a professional and ethical duty to stay sober while driving. Truckers who fail to do so place the entire motoring public in danger.

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