When drivers of any vehicle abuse drugs or alcohol, it has the potential to affect everything from judgment and coordination to reaction time. When drivers of large trucks abuse drugs or alcohol, the dangers become even more apparent, as these large, heavy vehicles pose a threat to everyone in smaller cars based on size and weight alone.
Per ESR Check, findings from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse show that drug use among commercial truckers rose 13% during the first eight months of 2021 compared to the same stretch in 2020. Enacted in early 2020, the clearinghouse seeks to identify truckers who use drugs and alcohol and prevent them from getting behind the wheel and endangering the public.
Truckers and marijuana use
Truckers’ use of marijuana during the first eight months of 2021 far outpaced their use of other substances. More than 50% of all truck driver drug citations logged in the clearinghouse during that time were marijuana violations. In total, there were 21,438 marijuana violations among truck drivers between January and August of 2021. The year prior, there were 18,252 such violations during the same span.
Truckers and cocaine, methamphetamine use
The use of cocaine and methamphetamine is less common among commercial truck drivers. Yet, any trucker who abuses either substance on the job becomes more likely to cause a severe crash. Cocaine violations increased from 5,233 during the first eight months of 2020 to 5,913 during the first eight months of 2021. Methamphetamine violations rose from 3,379 to 3,526 during this same period.
Truckers cited in the clearinghouse have to follow a pre-set return-to-duty protocol before they may drive again after a drug violation.