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How common is substance abuse among truck drivers?

Though it is common knowledge among Pennsylvania residents that abusing substances and driving do not mix, statistics show that today’s commercial truck drivers are using drugs and alcohol on the job at disturbing rates. Because the drivers and passengers of smaller, passenger vehicles are often those who suffer injuries when cars and trucks collide, substance-abusing truck drivers pose a particularly significant safety risk to the motoring public.

According to the American Addiction Centers, semi-truck drivers lead particularly solitary lives, and with little oversight or regulation surrounding substance abuse among commercial truckers, many of them turn to drugs and alcohol. Many modern truck drivers report that they turn to drugs or alcohol on the job in an effort to fight feelings of boredom or loneliness, while others do so because they think it will help them perform better and cover more miles.

For example, amphetamine use is especially problematic among today’s semi-truck drivers, with more than 82 percent of truckers involved in a series of 36 studies admitting to using amphetamines, such as methamphetamine, while on the clock. While these drugs may increase alertness and attentiveness initially, giving drivers the impression they will improve performance, they can cause problems later on.

More specifically, amphetamines can affect some truck drivers by making them feel invincible on the road, which, in turn, can make them more likely to engage in risky or dangerous driving behaviors. Amphetamine use can also make truckers even more tired later, when the effects start to wear off, which can lead them to drive drowsy, and in some cases, fall asleep behind the wheel. Alcohol abuse among truck drivers is also extremely prevalent, with about 90 percent of those involved in the series of 36 recent studies admitting to using it at work.

This copy is informational in nature and does not constitute legal advice.

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