Last updated: May 25, 2020
In in the US, the logistics and trucking industry is highly competitive. The sector plays a vital role in facilitating the flow of goods throughout the entire world’s largest consumer market. Eighty-percent of all American cargo is transported by the use of trucks, according to Business Insider. In fact, the trucking industry trumps all other means of transport, air, pipeline, rail and water combined.
The latest data released by the American Trucking Associations reveals that the trucking revenues were $676.2 million in 2016 a slight drop from the previous year. Over 10.4 tons of cargo was transported using trucks per the report by Select USA.
Alcohol and substance abuse in the trucking industry
Despite the role that the trucking industry plays in the transportation of goods and its impact on the US economy, it’s been in the limelight for the increasing cases of alcohol and substance abuse. Truck driving is demanding vocation whose lifestyle may make the drivers fall into the temptation of working under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
The work is physically and mentally taxing. Most of the time, drivers have to travel long hours and have to be away from their families for extended durations. The profession involves immense solitude, sleep deprivation and excessive fatigue. It can be annoyingly repetitive, monotonous, demanding and stressful, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health.
As such, the drivers will usually take relief in the use of psychoactive substances including opioids that have become a crises in various sectors, the transport industry included. They believe that these substances help fight the sleepiness, solitude, and induce the willingness to work more.
In November 2017, changes were made to the DOT regulations, and the drug testing will now include opioids. The changes to the Part 40 that outlines the procedures for alcohol and drug testing for workers in the transport industry and went into force on January 1, 2018. Many employers mistakenly believe they don’t need to worry about opioid abuse because they think it’s isolated to a certain type of people, but the truth is it’s become quite common across all demographics.
As time goes by, the pressure and solitude that comes with the job will weigh down on them, and they graduate to dangerous drugs such as meth and cocaine just to make the jobs a little interesting. What’s taken with innocent intents has far-reaching impacts on the health of the victims not to mention the social and financial implications on the society.
Truck drivers drug, alcohol abuse and addiction a major cause of truck fatal crashes
As already noted, truck driving is a challenging job. Drivers often put health, their lives and those of other road users on the line when they use stimulants to complete a shift. Reuters reports that the use of mind-altering substances such as alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine and marijuana could be linked to the poor working conditions and long working hours.
During the interview, half of the drivers confessed to drinking and driving while 30-percent of the drivers admitted to using amphetamines. Upon undergoing the test, the Reuters study reveals that American truck drivers recorded the highest number of positives for alcohol use.
Alcohol and drug abuse gives a false job performance impression
Inarguably, alcohol and substance abuse among the truck drivers risks not only their lives but also that of other road users. Even worse, it comes with an additional problem that gives the employers and the management of the trucking companies an impression that they can handle longer trips than usual.
Therefore, the drivers will be assigned even longer shifts. And to keep up with the rising job demands and pressure, they’ll be forced to use higher doses of the drugs and even seek more potent substances.
As a result, overdose kicks in, addiction is inevitable and the chances of a truck crash occurring rises.
Shocking statistics on truck fatal crashes
Usually, the victims of the truck crashes are the passengers in other vehicles using the same road. Compared to small cars, loaded long trailers will take 20-40 percent farther to stop after applying brakes. It gets worse when using wet and slippery roads or when the brakes are faulty. Combine that with lack of sleep, and fatigue, and it will be pure luck if a crash doesn’t occur.
According to the data and statistics by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 3802 large truck crashes reported in 2012. The report indicates that alcohol and drug abuse were to blame for the fatal crashes. Additionally, the number of large trucks involved in accidents increased markedly from 63,000 – 77,000 (approximately 22 percent).
Fatality facts by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute reveal that 3986 persons died in large truck crashes in 2016. Sixty-six percent of the total deaths were passengers in other vehicles. Further, the report shows that the numbers were 27% higher compared to 2009. Of all the vehicle crashes, 11 percent involved large trucks.
There’s no denying that drug and substance abuse has a huge role in the increasing number of truck crashes and the resulting deaths. Stricter drug-testing regulations, better working conditions and proper maintenance of the trucks will help curtail the use of drugs and lower the number of accidents.