Colorado’s mountain roads and unpredictable weather patterns can make driving difficult for anyone, but the drivers of heavy commercial trucks have an especially difficult job on their hands. The size and weight of today’s semitrucks make them a danger to passenger vehicles even under the best of circumstances, but when truckers abuse drugs or alcohol before getting behind the wheel, they place everyone on the road at risk.
Unfortunately, the American Addiction Centers report that many of today’s truck drivers are abusing substances while on the job, which can impact numerous areas of driver performance, including alertness, attentiveness and judgment, among others.
Trucker substance abuse by the numbers
There have been numerous studies involving the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse among truck drivers, and a closer look at the results of 36 of them conducted between 2000 and 2013 revealed some sobering statistics. While more than 8 percent of the truckers involved in the studies reported using cocaine on the job, about 82.5 percent acknowledged that they had used amphetamines, such as methamphetamine, to help power their way through long shifts.
Many trucker drivers abuse alcohol, too, per study results, which collectively showed that up to 91 percent of the truckers involved in them had consumed alcohol at some point while on the job.
How substance abuse impacts performance
Why do so many truck drivers abuse substances? Part of the reason is likely due to the grueling nature of the job, which can often involve long, solitary days and nights on the road. Some drivers likely also turn to drugs or alcohol while at work out of sheer boredom, or to try to stay awake longer or finish a particular job that much faster.
When truck crashes lead to fatalities, it is the drivers and passengers in the smaller cars that typically lose their lives. Studies indicate that many of today’s truck drivers are taking unnecessary risks, and the repercussions are too often deadly.