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Study examines substance abuse rates among truck drivers

A newly released international study may substantially impact the way that the commercial trucking industry handles substance abuse among its workforce. The review, which was recently published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is informed by data from 36 separate studies primarily conducted in large, developed nations like the United States and Australia. It indicates that the kinds of substance abuse that lead to a staggering number of truck accidents are more prevalent among certain populations of truck drivers.

The most pressing concern that the study’s authors confirmed is that truck drivers who are younger and who are not paid as well as more experienced drivers are more likely to engage in substance abuse while behind the wheel. In addition, long-haul truckers, night drivers and truck drivers who fail to obtain adequate rest are also at higher risk of substance abuse while driving.

This issue should greatly concern safety experts, industry officials and the general public. As the authors of the study have noted, “[Drugs and alcohol] have been proved to impair driving and cause a greater risk of traffic accidents. Therefore, gas stations, trucker stops and companies that employ these professionals must be more closely observed regarding the sale and consumption of these substances."

Substance abuse is a serious issue that can impair drivers’ judgment and can cause fatal accidents. Now that safety experts and the industry better understand what factors heighten a risk of substance abuse among truckers, it is important to act in ways that mitigate this trend significantly.

Source: Health Day, “Study Probes Why Truckers Use Booze, Illicit Drugs,” Oct. 22, 2013

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