It is unfortunate that drug addiction among truckers around the globe is much higher than the average. This should be no surprise, considering the long hours alone, stuck in a cab and hurtling down the road with up to 80,000 pounds of vehicle and payload. They fight the rut by engaging in risky behavior, including drug use. More than such rest stop standbys as trucker’s speed, these drugs are high-powered amphetamines and cocaine. Extended use of these drugs can lead to agitation, hypertension, hallucinations, addiction, and impaired driving.
The American Addiction Center now released some hard numbers on trucker’s drug use:
- Thirty percent of drivers said they used amphetamines.
- Truckers in the U.S. had a 12.5% rate of positive alcohol tests, which is the highest frequency in the world.
These statistics represent a safety risk to themselves and others on the road. The rampant drug use also creates a false belief that truck companies can expect the average truck driver to take on longer trips with unrealistic timelines. Pushing employees past the limit only further heightens the risks. Moreover, the pandemic has further complicated the situation with some safety regulations relaxed to avoid shortages of food and goods.
New testing needed
The Department of Health and Human Services announced in early 2021 that it wants to add fentanyl (which is very powerful and addictive) and methadone to the list of drugs to test truck drivers. The organization has also proposed using hair samples to better recognize long-term or consistent drug use, even if a swab or urine sample was clean. These changes could get pushback from the industry, but it’s a small price to pay for making the roads safer from impaired truck drivers.