Many Minnesota motorists feel uneasy when driving near large semitrucks. New research about the rate of drug abuse among commercial truck drivers is unlikely to ease such concerns. The number of commercial truckers using drugs on the job is on the rise, and this means enhanced risks for everyone sharing the road with these vehicles.
Per ESR Check, data from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration database that tracks truck drivers who receive drug or alcohol violations, shows a significant spike in drug use among these professionals. Between January and the end of August in 2021, there was a 13% increase in positive trucker drug tests compared with the same stretch the year before.
Trucker drug use statistics
More than half of all positive trucker drug tests involved the use of marijuana. This may be due to the fact that there is so much variation in marijuana laws from state to state. During the first eight months of 2021, 21,438 truck drivers took drug tests that were positive for marijuana. During the same span in 2020, there were 18,252 positive marijuana tests among commercial truckers. Cocaine was the second-most-abused substance among semitruck drivers, and methamphetamine was the third.
Trucker drug use risks
Different drugs have the potential to impact a truck driver in different ways. However, any substance that alters a trucker’s mindset poses a major threat to public safety. Stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine may make truck drivers more aggressive or prone to risk-taking. Marijuana might impact a trucker’s judgment, concentration and reaction time.
Truckers who abuse alcohol or drugs and cause crashes may face criminal sanctions if their cases wind up in court.