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Study Finds Truck Drivers Use Drugs and Alcohol While Driving

Update Date: Oct 21, 2013 06:33 PM EDT

Truck drivers go on long journeys throughout the country delivering shipments of products. Even though this job can be tiresome, long and boring at times, truck drivers are expected to transfer goods at a safe pace from point A to point B. Due to the fact that driving is considered one of the most deadliest forms of transportations, researchers decided to study how safe truck drivers are during their trips. The study shockingly reported that truck drivers use drugs and drink alcohol on their jobs, jeopardizing their own safety and the safety of the people.

For this study, the researchers conducted a comprehensive review of 36 studies. These studies used biological samples to test for substances and survey data. The majority of the studies were done in countries with large land mass, such as the United States, Australia and Brazil. The researchers listed the four most commonly used substances, which were amphetamines ("speed"), cannabis, cocaine and alcohol.

Based from the combination of the studies, the researchers calculated the frequencies for each substance. They reported that for amphetamines, the percentage of truck drivers that used them was between 0.2 percent and 82.5 percent. For cannabis, around 0.2 percent to 30 percent of truck drivers used it. Anywhere from 0.1 percent to a little over eight percent of the drivers used cocaine. When it came to alcohol, 0.1 percent to 91 percent of the drivers drank.

The researchers acknowledged that the ranges are quite large due to the fact that they looked into so many studies that provided varying data based on where the study was conducted. The researchers explained that the percentages tended to fall when they only focused on studies that used biological samples as opposed to survey data. For example, the average percentage of people who drank alcohol based on survey data was 54 percent. When the researchers only calculated the data coming from biological samples, they found that the average percentage fell drastically to 3.6 percent.

When the researchers isolated 12 studies, they found common factors that increased one's chances of drinking or taking substances while driving. These common factors included younger age, longer trips, night trips, fewer hours of rest and income that was below the union's recommended rates.

Regardless of the varying percentages, the review revealed that drivers are getting behind the wheel without a clear state of mind. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol increases risk of falling asleep at the wheel, which then can lead to dangerous traffic collisions. Furthermore, since trucks are larger vehicles, accidents might lead to a higher death toll. Due to the risks involved, researchers believe that something needs to be done to monitor truck drivers and ensure that they are being safe behind the wheel.

The study was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine

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